Sri Lanka T20 skipper Thisara Perera although not committing himself fully gave enough evidence that they were keen to hand Mendis his maiden international cap.
“Kamindu played alongside with me for Colombo District. We know what he is capable of. A remarkable player he can bowl with both hands and when a right-hand/left-hand combination is out in the middle having him in the team is a big bonus for us,” said Perera at the post-match press conference.
“I represented Sri Lanka when I was 20. The important thing is to give a young player like him a break and give him some exposure. He is an impact player. He is more than an all-rounder I would say. He bowls with both hands. Excellent fielder and he is a handy bat too, very good talent and a very good find. He will be a great asset for the team moving forward.”
England had a look at Mendis for the first time when he played for the Sri Lanka Board XI in their two-day warm-up match sending down his off-breaks against left-hander Eoin Morgan and then switching to orthodox left-arm against right-hander Joe Root, having earlier showcased his abilities during the 2016 under 19 World Cup.
Having won the fifth and final ODI against England rather comprehensively Perera said that Sri Lanka want to carry the momentum into today’s game.
“We had a good game in the last ODI and we want to continue that good performance in the T-20 International as well. We want to finish off the one-day series well,” said Perera. “I told the boys that we had some good momentum from the last ODI and we have to hand over to the Test guys with a good momentum by doing well in the T-20. That is our main focus.”
Perera was of the view that the toss would not be a huge factor. “As T-20s start at 7 pm the dew is present by the time the game starts. The team that does less mistakes wins. We have to keep our energy on the field. Half chances need to be converted and that is the key when it comes to T-20s. Things like toss and weather you cannot control. What you can control is the way you play.”
With Kusal Perera still on the injury list it is most likely that Sri Lanka would persist with their ODI openers Niroshan Dickwella and Sadeera Samarawickrama who have so far paired off together successfully providing the team with starts which they can build match-winning totals.
“We gave them the last couple of games hoping to get a good start. We have to give players opportunities often and I thought they grabbed it with both hands. We have just a few games before the World Cup and we hope to settle on a side rather than allowing new players to come in and find places,” said Perera.
Kusal Perera was named in the T20 squad of 15 but has been replaced by Samarawickrama as his hamstring injury is taking time to heal.
Sri Lanka rested experienced fast bowler Lasith Malinga for the fifth ODI and being a T20 specialist is likely to return to the side for today’s game.
“What we wanted to do in the last ODI was to give a couple of young players a break. Lasith is one of our main match winners and he can turn up at anytime. We are yet to finalize the combination. Lasith is a huge asset for us when it comes to T20 and we look forward to him playing in tomorrow's game,” said Perera.
Sri Lanka has lost three of their last four T20I matches played at this venue, including a penultimate ball defeat to Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy in March this year that led to a dressing room door being smashed.