Sri Lanka pick 18-year-old Avishka Fernando for ODI

250211.3A starring turn in the recent Sri Lanka Under-19 team’s tour of England has earned top-order batsman Avishka Fernando a call-up to Sri Lanka’s squad for the first two ODIs against Australia. Left-arm spinner Amila Aponso has also been named in a national squad for the first time, following good outings in South Africa with the Sri Lanka emerging team.

Allrounders Milinda Siriwardana and Thisara Perera returned to the ODI squad, having been dropped for the series against England. Allrounder Dasun Shanaka was omitted, as were Farveez Maharoof, Suraj Randiv and Chaminda Bandara. Tillakaratne Dilshan returned to the side after having missed the England tour due to personal reasons.

Fernando, 18, has not yet played any senior cricket, but recently hit consecutive hundreds – atChelmsford and Canterbury – to help lead Sri Lanka Under-19 to an unprecedented whitewash over England Under-19. A bruising right-hand batsman, who had played for St. Sebastian’s College in Moratuwa, Fernando hit 285 runs in that three-match Youth ODI series, at an average of 95 and a strike rate of 103. He had also struck 97 in a Youth ODI against South Africa Under-19, in July.

Aponso, meanwhile, had taken 13 wickets for 207 runs against South Africa Emerging XI, in a four-day game in Potchefstroom last week, and returned good figures in the one-day matches on the same tour. He was particularly impressive in first-class cricket for Ragama Cricket Club. He claimed 47 wickets at an average of 20.97 in the most recent Premier League Tournament, to finish third on the wicket-taker’s list. The man who topped that list – left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan – was also selected. He had once been in an ODI squad during a home series against England, in 2014, but did not play a game.

Siriwardana, who had made a good start to his career with bat and ball, missed out on Test selection, but has now returned to the ODI team. Thisara had only been picked for Sri Lanka A’s recent tour to England but, despite proving expensive with the ball and only sporadically effective with the bat in that series, he was picked for Sri Lanka again. Allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva was also selected, following promising returns in his debut Test series. De Silva has played one ODI – against Ireland, in June.

Nuwan Pradeep had recovered from the hamstring injury he sustained in the Test series, but Suranga Lakmal was the only other specialist seam bowler in this squad. Dushmantha Chameera and Lasith Malinga continued to be unavailable through injury.

The first of five ODIs will be played on Sunday, at Khettarama. The series later moves to Dambulla and Pallekele.

Sri Lanka ODI squad for first two ODIs: Angelo Mathews (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Milinda Siriwardana, Seekkuge Prasanna, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Avishka Fernando, Amila Aponso

(Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)