Sri Lanka Army's latest gift to national sports, Gunner Ajantha Mendis of Sri Lanka Army Artillery Regiment, brought great glory to his motherland yesterday (June 6) with his excellent cricketing performance at Asia Cup final in Pakistan.
Ajantha with his magical spin bowling helped the Sri Lankan team to beat India by 100 runs in the final in Karachi and to defend the Asia Cup title, winning it for the fourth time. Facing the mighty Indians for the first time in his career, Ajantha took six wickets for just 13 runs bowling only 8 overs. India lost 9 wickets for 97 runs and were finally bowled out for 173 in 39.3 overs. The 23-year-old spinner won both the Man of the Series and Man of the Match Awards. He also bettered the best bowling figures in Asia Cup history, erasing the 5 wickets for 19 runs record set by Aaqub Javid for Pakistan against India in 1995.
Gunner Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis made history in the Sri Lanka Army by being the first Army cricketer to represent the National Team. He made his debut in April this year against West Indies . Having spotted his talents during 2003/2004 under 23 division 11 tournaments, the Army Cricket Committee invited Ajantha to play for the Army Cricket Club. As result, he joined Army regular force as a gunner in the Artillery Regiment.
After his basic military training he was sent to the Army Cricket Pool and from there on given good training. Being a hard working youngster and quick learner, Ajantha was able to cement his place in the Army team due to his skill in all three aspects of the game - bowling, batting and fielding. He was initially coached by Mr Saman Hewawithrana and Mr Neil Rajapakse. Later, both coaches did a good job in guiding him. He has shown a steady progress in all the tournaments organized by Sri Lanka Cricket when representing the Army. His first appearance for the Army was in the 2004/2005 Sara Trophy Tournament. In the same tournament the following year he was awarded the Best All-Rounder's Trophy by Sri Lanka Cricket.
Defence.lk extends its best wishes to this excellent cricketer and fellow soldier.