Ask the Sri Lankan manager, former Test player Hashan Tillakaratne, for permission to speak to Ajantha Mendis and he makes a face that gives the impression that the words spoken in English have turned Latin by the time they reached his ears. Standing at the Sinhalese Sports Club — the nerve centre of Lankan cricket — the middle-order batsman, now an official of similar status, is stumped by this query on his first day in office.
“He has a chamber upstairs. Go and meet him, if he is free he will speak to you,” he says pointing to the ceiling. Overnight fame isn’t new to sub-continent cricketers, but a cabin in the board office isn’t something even Sachin Tendulkar can boast of. But fears about the Asia Cup hero being placed on this impossibly high pedestal are rested soon as a smile flashes across Tillakaratne’s face. “Oh, now I get it. You want to speak to Ajantha, I thought you were asking for our CEO Duleep Mendis. Ajantha is in the pool, you can speak to him,” he says.
Read more of Sandeep Dwivedi's brilliant encounter with the Mystery Spinner here.