Batsmen Kusal Mendis and Kaushal Silva, and seamer Nuwan Pradeephave been omitted from Sri Lanka’s squad for the three-Test series in India. Instead, allrounders Dhananjaya de Silva and Dasun Shanaka have been named in the 15-member group. Angelo Mathews, who had been declared fit last week, also features in the squad.
Last week SLC CEO Ashley de Silva had said that allrounder Asela Gunaratne and batsman Kusal Perera, who have both recently recovered from injury, would also be “considered for selection for the Indian series”, but they weren’t part of the squad.
ESPNcricinfo understands the selectors have rested Pradeep. SLC is handling the fast bowler with care due to his history of injury problems, with the three Tests against India deemed too much of a risk following an injury scare ahead of the second Test against Pakistan. It is likely he will return for the limited-overs series.
On the batting front, the selectors felt Kaushal Silva had not done enough to retain his place after scoring only 67 runs in four innings against Pakistan.
The only real surprise in the squad was the omission of Mendis; the technically sound 22-year-old batsman has been earmarked as a potential future captain and has been a mainstay in the Test side since his debut last year, but an underwhelming series against Pakistan has led selectors to believe he would be better served by a stint improving his game back home. Another poor return against India, they felt, would do more harm than good. Mendis had, however, hit a hundred on a difficult SSC pitch against India in July. He had also hit a match-winning ton against Bangladesh, earlier in the year.
Dhananjaya and Shanaka were rewarded for their performances for Sri Lanka A in the Caribbean last month. Dhananjaya, who had led Sri Lanka A to a 2-1 series win in the unofficial Tests, finished as the top scorer for the team with 260 runs at an average of 52. Shanaka was the second-highest scorer for the side with 183 runs in two matches at an average of 61.
Shanaka, who has only played in one Test to date, may also be expected to fill in the role of fast-bowling allrounder with SLC confirming that Mathews will be playing only as a batsman in the Tests.
Sri Lanka are relatively light on experience in the fast-bowling department in the absence of Pradeep. Suranga Lakmal will lead an inexperienced pace contingent consisting of Lahiru Gamage and Vishwa Fernando, who have played just three Tests between them, while Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan will make up Sri Lanka’s gang of spinners.
Sadeera Samarawickrama, who made his debut in the second Test against Pakistan, will likely slot in at the top of the order alongside Dimuth Karunaratne. Mathews, meanwhile, will look to shore up a middle order that will likely consist of the returning de Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne and Niroshan Dickwella. Roshen Silva, who was a non-playing member of the squad which toured the UAE, keeps his place in the squad as well after some good showings for Sri Lanka A against the West Indies last month.
Former Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera, meanwhile, has been officially named as the side’s batting coach for three years. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)