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Challenges in T20 World Cup group stage have steeled us for Super 12, says Kusal Mendis

Geelong (Victoria), Oct 21 (IANS) Reaching the Super 12 stage in the ICC T20 World Cup here after a brush with elimination has hardened the Sri Lankan team for bigger challenges, feels their wicketkeeper-batter Kusal Mendis who smashed a breezy 79 as the Islanders defeated the Netherlands by 16 runs in a Group A First Round game here to secure a place among the elite sides on Thursday.

Sri Lanka, the reigning Asia Cup champions, had suffered a 55-run thrashing at the hands of Namibia in their opening Group A match, leaving them in a must-win situation in the two remaining matches. They defeated UAE by 79 runs to bring their net run rate (NRR) back on track and then overcame the gritty Dutch on Thursday to secure a Super 12 berth.

Asked whether the tough matches in the group stage had steeled the side for bigger challenges to come in Super 12, Mendis, who scored at a strike rate of nearly 180 on Thursday, agreed it was a good thing to face some tough challenges early in the tournament.

“Yeah, last month (too) I played very well at the Asia Cup (after the humiliating loss to Afghanistan). (Here too), I knew I (needed to) have a similar plan in the next match (after the loss to Namibia). I think we do it better (come back strongly after losses),” said Mendis.

Mendis said the first match against Namibia had taught the players it wasn’t important to play the big shots to maximise the scoring rate.

“Yeah, the first game a little bit we knew the wicket was a little bit slow. After that match, I knew how to play (on) this wicket. Then the second and third match, I played really well,” said Mendis.

Mendis conceded that in the Group A opening match, he was completely at sea on a slow pitch but altered his strategy in the subsequent games.

“First game, I didn’t know how to play on the pitch because it was really slow. Then after the first match, I knew how to play here. I took time (to settle down). In the first six overs, I played the normal game. Then after the six overs, I managed my routine,” he added.

–IANS

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