Sri Lanka are hoping that Kusal Mendis has escaped without a broken finger after taking a fierce blow while fielding at short leg on the opening day of the tour game against the Cricket Australia XI in Hobart.
A powerful sweep from Jake Doran hit Mendis during the middle session of the day-night match and he was in considerable pain, quickly leaving the field for treatment. He spent the rest of the day icing the injury to his right ring finger and will have an x-ray in the morning to confirm the extent of the damage.
“At this stage it’s a little bit of pain and he can’t hold the bat, so hopefully in 24 hours’ time we’ll know,” Sri Lanka coach Chandika Hathurusingha said. “He was in quite a lot of pain but now he’s okay after icing it a couple of times.”
Mendis is vital to Sri Lanka’s batting, especially in the absence of Angelo Mathews, and comes into the series on the back of impressive form against New Zealand where he made an unbeaten 141 in the first Test and 67 in the second. Last year, he was the second-highest scorer in Tests with 1023 runs at 46.50.
Overall, Sri Lanka had a mixed day in the field, reducing the CA XI to 5 for 98 before an unbroken stand of 218 between Kurtis Patterson and Doran became the dominant feature. Keeping the four players in Australia’s Test squad to 40 runs between them was a major plus, but Hathurusingha was far less impressed with a familiar problem rearing its head in the shape of 12 no-balls – eight delivered by Kasun Rajitha.
“It’s a big concern,” he said. “We need to get that right because it’s happened to us again. The spinners also bowled no-balls in the England series and we got wickets off no-balls. We need to get it right soon.
“It’s about being aware of the line right in front of you basically. I think they are trying a bit too hard when the ball gets softer to get the ball through. It’s a mental thing so they need to adjust knowing they have to stay back.”
The softness of the ball Hathurusingha referred to was part of a larger concern he had about the durability of the pink ball as the day wore on, but he hoped the Gabba pitch and outfield may aid its longevity during the first Test, starting January 24. Sri Lanka couldn’t keep hold of the run-rate later in the day either, with their spinners conceding more than five an over.
“We got a lot of information about the pink ball as well because we are playing with it after a long time. The last time was in Barbados with a Dukes ball and this ball is different, it got softer very quickly. I thought our guys bowled really well at the start then we need to find how to be in the game when it gets softer.”