Rookie batsmen Dasun Shanaka and Dhananjaya de Silva have been named in Sri Lanka’s Test squad to tour England, in which Lahiru Thirimanne has also found a place. Also included are wicketkeeper-batsmen Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella. The 17-man squad features 10 batsmen, five pacemen and two spin bowlers.
Dhammika Prasad, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal and Shaminda Eranga make up the pace battery, while Rangana Herath and offspinner Dilruwan Perera make up the spin complement. Batsman Kaushal Silva, who was recently hospitalised after being struck on the head while fielding, earns a recall to the squad after being dropped for the New Zealand tour.
De Silva, 24, earned his place via an excellent first-class season for Tamil Union, hitting 868 runs at an average of 54.25 in a victorious Premier League campaign. There is no place, however, for Premier League top-scorer Tharanga Paranavitana, who hit 953 runs at 79.41 in the season.
The inclusion of Shanaka, 24, is more surprising, given he had not played in most of SSC’s Premier League matches in the recent season. However, he did hit a 108 in one of his five completed innings, and also claimed eight wickets with his part-time seam bowling in the same match.
Shanaka had largely impressed in domestic T20s, where he struck two breakneck tons inside a week. He also played in the World T20, making 15 and 20 not out in his two innings. Shanaka has a first-class average of 38.12 across 38 innings, with his other two hundreds having come in the previous first-class season.
Thirimanne had not been named in the 20-man preliminary squad for this tour, as he was undergoing rehabilitation for the hamstring injury he had sustained during the World T20. He will continue to work on his fitness in the coming weeks, but is doubtful for the first Test starting May 19, according to team management. Thirimanne has had a modest Test record of late, averaging 19.26 across his last 25 innings.
Mendis, 21, keeps his place following a middling start in Test cricket in the last quarter of 2015. He hit 183 runs at an average of 30.5 in three Tests, two of which were in New Zealand. Dickwella, who last played a Test in December 2014, batted well in the Premier League, averaging 55.42.
Also coming back from a 16-month Test hiatus is seamer Eranga, who was laid low through 2015 by a string of substantial injuries. Both he and Lakmal played roles in Tamil Union’s Premier League victory, and team management also reported that Eranga was particularly good during the Sri Lanka squad’s recent training matches in Pallekele. His presence also means that Sri Lanka are taking the same pace battery that had helped win the 2014 series in England, only with the addition of Chameera, who provides a little extra pace.
Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay did not find a place in the squad, with the more-experienced Dilruwan named instead.
The squad departs for England on May 4, and they will play two practice games before the first Test begins at Headingley. The other two matches in the series are scheduled for Chester-le-Street and Lord’s. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)