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Sri Lanka consider mystery man Mendis to sink England

Gros Islet: Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara could unleash versatile, young spinner Ajantha Mendis on an England team that has had little experience of playing the talented bowler.

The two teams meet in the semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday on a slow surface that could be well suited to spin.

Mendis, who bowls a mixed-up collection of orthodox off-spin and well disguised leg-breaks was left out of Sri Lanka`s reshuffled line-up for Tuesday`s dramatic last-ball win over India -- a result that sent them through.

Batsmen internationally have been getting used to reading Mendis`s various deliveries but the English, who have only faced the 25-year-old once in last year`s Champions Trophy, have hardly encountered him.

"We`ll have to have a think about that, how that works with our combinations and batting. We would love him to play. I think he`s a top quality spinner and England probably played him once," said Sangakkara.

"It`s a realistic possibility but we`ve got other spinners, even part-timers who are pretty good," he said.

Another Sri Lankan threat to England`s powerful batting line-up comes in the form of Lasith Malinga, whose slingy action produces deliveries that can skid-on and keep surprisingly low.

"A few of us have played against them. But it is obviously a slight concern," said England captain Paul Collingwood.

"Quite a lot of the guys haven`t played against the angle of Malinga, his skiddiness, his change-ups -- and not many of us have played much against Mendis," he added.

The short format does not allow for players to get their `eye in` against a new bowler so Collingwood is encouraging his players to watch video of the Sri Lankans.

"When guys are bowling 24 balls at you, you can`t give yourself six or seven to get yourself in against them," he said.

"That`s one of the things we need to make sure we overcome; we need to watch as much footage as possible and talk about it between ourselves."

"That`s another great thing, we are communicating really well. Players who have played against them are passing tips on to the other guys and I think that`s helping a lot."

Sangakkara though is hoping that the slower-paced surface will give Sri Lanka the edge.

"We would like to think so, we`ve got a lot of variation in our bowling attack. We will try to exploit that in these conditions but we`ve got to think of all the angles," he said.

Bureau Report

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