Mendis mystery just the start - Bayliss

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Ajantha Mendis

Ajantha Mendis celebrates one of his three wickets in Sri Lanka's convincing opening victory against South Africa

Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss has warned England that picking dangerman Ajantha Mendis’ repertoire is one thing, but playing him is quite another.

England begin their Champions Trophy campaign against Sri Lanka under floodlights at the Wanderers tomorrow, when they will face the menacing Mendis for the first time.

They have come across Sri Lanka’s new mystery spinner before but that was merely as a net bowler during a tour two years ago.

Worryingly, he feasts on new opponents, as South Africa found to their cost in the opening game of the competition.

Mendis, 24, has taken 71 one-day international wickets at just 15 apiece and a remarkable success rate of one every 22 balls.

“It doesn’t matter how much you watch him on TV,” said Bayliss. “It’s one thing picking what the balls are, it’s another thing to hit it.

“He’s only been with us for under two years and he has come a long way in a short period of time.”

With England entering the tournament on the back of 6-1 NatWest Series defeat by Australia, and Mendis teaming up with the equally beguiling Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka will begin the contest as firm favourites.

Nevertheless, Bayliss is wary of England, who beat his team 3-2 in Sri Lanka at the start of the 2007-08 winter, despite their recent defeat to Australia in the NatWest Series.

“They will be here to set the record straight and start afresh in this competition,” Bayliss said. “They will be coming out as hard as they possibly can to perform.

“There will not be any easy game in these three we play in Group B and we won’t be taking anyone lightly.”

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