Pallekele, July 31 : After taking a one-nil lead in the three-match Test series against Australia, Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews has praised centurion Kusal Mendis for guiding his side to a massive 106-run victory in the rain-hit opening match here at the Pallekele Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
Mendis was declared `Man of the Match` for his brilliant 176-run knock as he led his side to set a target of 353 before the Lankan bowlers came in fore to bundle out Australia for 161 in their chase of 268-run target.
While admitting that he had seen something special in Mendis during his side's tour to New Zealand in December, Mathews said the former has shown a lot of class and temperament by performing so well in his first Test against the Steve Smith-led side.
"The selectors said he was really good, but I hadn't seen him much to be honest .Once we went to New Zealand, I thought Kusal was pretty special as well.
The way he handled himself at the top of the order - it was a couple of tough tours for him as well in New Zealand and England, where it was seaming around.
You don't always have to have a lot of experience. There can be exceptional players like him who can walk into the international scene and start performing," Mathews was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Besides Mendis, none of the Lankan batsmen was able to score much in the side's innings as the wicketkeeper-batsman rescued the hosts from a first-innings deficit of 86.
Mathews admitted that Mendis made the match look so easy with the way he played, adding he could see his bright future ahead.
"Especially playing his first Test against Australia and their very good attack, Mendis showed a lot of class and a lot of temperament," Mathews said."It was not easy to bat on that wicket.
It was turning rapidly and their bowlers were bowling well and fast as well. The way he played, he made it look so easy. Most of us were struggling to get runs. The way he batted, I'm very excited for the future," the skipper added. The skipper also could not stop him gushing over debutant left-arm wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan, who also played an instrumental role by bagging seven wickets overall in the match.
"When Rangana is bowling, he is attacking but he also contains. We needed someone like Sandakan. Unfortunately, Dilruwan didn't bowl that well in the game, and I'm sure he'll come back strongly. But it was very pleasing to see Sandakan bowling his googlies, and also the batsmen were finding it very tough on this wicket.
He will take the confidence of this performance forward," Mathews said. Sri Lanka will now aim to seal the series when they will take on Australia in the second Test, starting on Thursday at Galle International Stadium.