New Delhi: As if Muttiah Muralitharan was not enough, Sri Lanka now have another formidable spinner in Ajantha Mendis, whose unique style is also breaking new ground.
Muralitharan, with a record 735 Test wickets, has long flummoxed batsmen with his "doosra" delivery that spins away from right-handers instead of coming in like a conventional off-break.
Mendis is different again. Using an unusual grip with which he appears to squeeze the ball out of his fingers, the 23-year-old can bowl off-spin, leg-spin, googly, the top-spinner and the flipper.
His latest variation floored India in the Asia Cup final in Karachi on Sunday as he finished with a career-best 6-13 in eight overs to lead Sri Lanka to a 100-run victory.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the first to concede that Mendis was simply unplayable.
"We just could not read him and we knew he was a surprise bowler," he said.
"You need to be there in the middle to understand what he bowls. It was tough to pick his deliveries. It is not that the batsmen played badly, they played expecting something and the ball did something else."
India are hoping to pick up some tips on playing Mendis during their three-Test and five one-day international tour of Sri Lanka this month.
Mendis may not have played a Test, but has been in the news since making his one-day debut in the West Indies in April.
He took just one game to show the world he was a bowler with a difference, finishing with 3-39 off 10 overs. He was a revelation at the Asia Cup, taking 17 wickets in five matches on batsmen-friendly tracks.
The emergence of Mendis is hardly surprising from a land famous for producing unorthodox cricketers, like aggressive batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, fast bowler Lasith Malinga and Muralitharan.
Mendis recently revealed the absence of expert advice during his early years could be one of the reasons for his unpredictability.
"It comes naturally to me. Nobody pointed it out to me until I came close to being selected for the national team," he said.
His captain, Mahela Jayawardene, said Sri Lanka actively encouraged individual flair.
"We encourage cricketers to be as natural as possible. What we have asked Mendis to do for now is to let us know what he's going to bowl in a particular situation," Jayawardene said during the Asia Cup.
India's Sachin Tendulkar comes closest to Sri Lanka's latest bowling sensation as he is also capable of bringing variations whether bowling spin or pace, but he is a part-timer used only to break partnerships.