Home Sports Dananjaya returns for South Africa ODIs after having action cleared

Dananjaya returns for South Africa ODIs after having action cleared

Spinner Akila Dananjaya has returned to Sri Lanka’s squad for the five ODIs in South Africa after having his action cleared by the ICC. He was officially banned from bowling in international cricket in December after an independent biomechanics assessment found his flex beyond the permitted 15 degrees.

Dhananjaya has been one of Sri Lanka’s main threats in limited-overs cricket in recent times, taking 28 ODI wickets at an average of 23 in 2018, and a further 27 wickets at 24.25 in Tests.

Dinesh Chandimal, who had been dropped for Test series in a shock move, was left out of the ODI squad too. Also ignored were allrounders Asela Gunaratne, Dasun Shanaka and Sekkuge Prasanna – who were all part of the squad in Sri Lanka’s previous ODI series in New Zealand. Instead, Angelo Perera, who last played an ODI in 2016, and Oshada Fernando, who is uncapped in ODIs, were included in the side.

Dananjaya will lead a revamped spin attack that includes Kamindu Mendis, the ambidextrous spinner, and Lakshan Sandakan, the left-arm wristspinner. Mendis, who is also uncapped in ODI cricket, bowls offbreaks as well as slow left-arm orthodox – the latter being his stronger suit.

That Dananjaya is back is a major boon for an ailing Sri Lanka ODI outfit. He had been Sri Lanka’s most consistent wicket-taker through the majority of 2018. Whether he will be able to be as effective with his revamped action remains to be seen, but the signs so far are good. He has been among the wickets in domestic first-class and T20 cricket over the past few weeks.

Batting allrounder Priyamal Perera, who struck back-to-back double-hundreds in the Premier League four-day tournament, has also earned his maiden call-up to the Sri Lanka squad.

Meanwhile, two old hands – batsman Upul Tharanga and left-arm seamer Isuru Udana – were back in the side after impressing for Sri Lanka A against Ireland A in January this year. Twenty-year-old Avishka Fernando, who amassed 523 runs in five one-dayers against Ireland A, was also rewarded with a spot in the squad.

Seamers Udana, Vishwa Fernando, and Kasun Rajitha only have a combined experience of 11 ODIs, which means captain Lasith Malinga will have to carry the load.

Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiuru Kumara and Nuwan Pradeep haven’t yet recovered from the injuries that had sidelined them from the Test series in South Africa. Opener Danushka Gunathilaka, who is in Sri Lanka’s plans for the World Cup, according to the selectors, has also failed to sufficiently recover from a recurring back injury. The selectors are also giving Angelo Mathews a little more time to recover from the hamstring strain he sustained while batting in a Test in New Zealand, in December.

To add to Sri Lanka’s woes, Chamika Karunaratne, who was initially named in the Test squad, has now joined the injury list and will return home. Asitha Fernando, who is uncapped in Test cricket, will replace him.

The five-ODI series begins in Johannesburg on March 3. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)

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