Balapuwaduge Kusal Gimhan Mendis, fondly known as Kusal Mendis, is a renowned Sri Lankan cricketer who has left an indelible mark on the world of cricket. Mendis, a top-order batsman of immense talent, has made a name for himself both domestically and internationally. His journey to cricket stardom is nothing short of remarkable.
Early Beginnings and Domestic Triumphs:
Mendis’ cricketing journey began with his recognition as the 2013 schoolboy cricketer of the year. He showcased his leadership skills by captaining the national youth and Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa teams during his formative years.
In the domestic arena, Mendis has consistently proven his mettle. His impressive performances led to his inclusion in various provincial tournaments, including the Super Four Provincial Tournament and the Super Provincial One Day Tournament. During the 2019-20 Premier League Tournament, Mendis displayed his batting prowess by scoring a phenomenal 139 against Ragama Cricket Club, securing a victory by an innings and 125 runs. Furthermore, Mendis achieved his maiden first-class double century against Nondescripts Cricket Club, solidifying his reputation as a rising star.
Mendis’ remarkable century against Chilaw Marians Cricket Club added another feather to his cap, further establishing his status as a prominent figure in Sri Lankan cricket.
Mendis made his mark on the international stage by captaining Sri Lanka’s squad in the 2014 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup. He made his Test debut in the West Indies tour of Sri Lanka in 2015, exhibiting his potential with scores of 13 and 39 runs.
Notably, Mendis shone in the Test arena by scoring his maiden century against Australia at the Pallekele Cricket Stadium in July 2016. His historic achievement made him the youngest Sri Lankan to achieve such a feat against Australia on home soil. Mendis was rightfully awarded the Man of the Match for his outstanding performance, contributing to only the second Test win for Sri Lanka against Australia.
Mendis continued to impress in ODIs, recording his maiden ODI fifty against Ireland in June 2016. His adaptability extended to T20Is as well, where he made his debut against England in July 2016.
Mendis’ ODI journey was marked by significant milestones, including his maiden ODI century against Bangladesh, although the match concluded as a no result due to rain. His shining moment came during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy when he played a pivotal role in Sri Lanka’s historic victory against India, achieving their highest successful run chase in Champion’s Trophy history.
The talented cricketer’s achievements weren’t limited to ODIs; he made a significant impact in Test cricket by scoring his second century against Bangladesh, missing a double century by just six runs. In the following years, Mendis consistently delivered strong performances, earning recognition as one of the top run-scorers in Test cricket in 2018.
Despite facing ups and downs in his career, Mendis displayed resilience and adaptability. His all-around contributions, including a match-winning half-century in T20Is, solidified his position in the national squad.
Mendis’ outstanding batting skills and match-winning performances continued to shine in the T20 format, securing victories for Sri Lanka. He played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s triumph against the West Indies, showcasing his ability to chase down big totals.
In the 2022 Asia Cup, Mendis, as an opener, formed match-winning partnerships with Pathum Nissanka. His consistent performances with the bat, including a crucial knock against India, contributed significantly to Sri Lanka’s success in the tournament.
Mendis’ journey in the T20 World Cup in 2022 was filled with milestones, including his 12th T20I half-century against the Netherlands and his 11th T20I half-century against India. His exceptional batting prowess helped Sri Lanka qualify for the super 12.
Mendis assumed the role of Vice-Captain in April 2021, showcasing his leadership potential in various international series. However, he faced challenges, including being dropped from the Vice-Captain position against India in September 2021. Yet, he made a triumphant return as Sri Lanka’s ODI Vice-Captain for the India tour in 2023, underscoring his resilience and leadership qualities.
Personal Life and Challenges:
Mendis’ journey in cricket hasn’t been without its share of challenges. In July 2020, he faced legal troubles after being involved in a fatal road accident. The incident brought immense scrutiny and legal consequences. Despite the setbacks, Mendis continued to persevere and focus on his cricket career.
In February 2021, Mendis celebrated a significant personal milestone by getting married in Colombo. In June 2022, he welcomed the birth of his daughter, marking a joyous chapter in his personal life.
Mendis’ recent performances have been nothing short of remarkable. He scored a century and a double century against Ireland in 2023, leading Sri Lanka to a resounding victory.
His contributions to the team have been instrumental in various formats of the game, making him a vital asset for Sri Lanka’s cricketing future.