Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera were recalled to Sri Lanka’s ODI squad against Bangladesh, but captain Angelo Mathews continued to remain unavailable due to injury. Other additions in the ODI squad included opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka – fresh from an excellent run for Sri Lanka A – but there was no place for either seam bowler Nuwan Kulasekara or legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay.
Upul Tharanga, who was stand-in captain during their 0-5 ODI whitewash in South Africa, will continue to lead the side in Mathews’ absence. While the management had hoped that Mathews would regain fitness in time for this series, the hamstring tear he sustained during the T20I series in South Africa continued to ail him.
Both Pereras have returned to the ODI outfit after showing decent form in the ODI leg of the England Lions’ recent tour of Sri Lanka. Thisara had hit a match-winning 56 not out off 35 in the first unofficial ODI, and taken 2 for 17 in the second. Kusal, meanwhile, had struck two fifties in the three games he played.
It was Gunathilaka, however, who headlined that series, with scores of 64, 121 not out, 44 and 51. He returned to the ODI squad after missing the South Africa series with a back complaint and his presence will create additional competition for the opening position. In addition to Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella have all recently opened the batting in limited-overs cricket.
Sri Lanka’s selectors have unusually selected just one specialist spinner in the 15-man squad, giving Lakshan Sandakan that place, but omitting the likes of Amila Aponso and Vandersay. Allrounders Sachith Pathirana, Asela Gunaratne, and Dhananjaya de Silva are capable slow bowlers however. Left-arm spinning allrounder Chaturanga de Silva, who was picked for that series in South Africa, has been omitted.
On the seam-bowling front, Suranga Lakmal appears likely to lead the attack, with Lahiru Kumara and Vikum Sanjaya were also picked. Lasith Malinga has made his comeback from injury in the T20 format, but is yet to reappear in ODIs.
The first of three ODIs is scheduled to be played in Dambulla, on March 25. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)