Sa’adi Thawfeeq in Daily News, 6 November 2017, where the title is “Mendis dropped for Indian Test series”
Kusal Mendis who began his international career on a high note with two big match-winning Test centuries against Australia and Bangladesh has been dropped from the 15-member Sri Lanka Test squad for the tour to India next week.Along with Mendis, opener Kaushal Silva and fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep has also been left out of the squad. All three of them figured in the recently concluded Test series against Pakistan in the UAE that Sri Lanka won 2-0.
Replacing them are Dhananjaya de Silva who has recaptured his form in the Caribbean leading Sri Lanka A to a 2-1 series win over West Indies A in the unofficial test series scoring one century and two half-centuries compiling 260 runs at an average of 52, former captain Angelo Mathews who’s return to the side from a calf injury was expected and, all-rounder Dasun Shanaka, who like De Silva has impressed in the Caribbean scoring 183 runs (avg. 61) with a century and a fifty.
“Kaushal Silva and Mendis we thought need to do some work on their batting and come back to the team. They have been given a fair chance and at the same time we have Dhananjaya (de Silva) who has been scoring runs in the West Indies he comes in. Sadeera (Samarawickrama) we have just brought him into the side so we need to give him a fair run,” said chief selector Graeme Labrooy.
“What we want Kaushal and Mendis to do is to work on their batting full time with Hashan Tillakaratne who is staying back as batting coach and Avishka Gunawardene (the one-day batting coach). We want them play some domestic cricket and get some runs. If we play them and they fail again it will be hard to bring them back. It will bring their confidence to zero,” he said.
After his great beginning in international cricket Mendis has failed to top fifty in his last 12 Test and ODI innings while Silva who was brought back to the side for the Pakistan series after being dropped for the home series against Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and India failed to consolidate his place averaging 16.75 with top score of 27.
“We want to give Sadeera and Dhananjaya a decent run so these guys will have to fight their way in. We will play them in all three Tests which will give them six good innings hopefully, for to prove themselves,” said Labrooy.
Tillakaratne who went as batting coach for the Pakistan series will be replaced by another former Sri Lanka cricketer Thilan Samaraweera who has been appointed batting coach of the national team till the 2019 World Cup.
SAMARAWICKRAMA TO OPEN
With Kaushal Silva out, Samarawickrama will be given the chance to open the innings with Dimuth Karunaratne with Dhananjaya de Silva picked as the third opener. De Silva also has another role to play in the side as the number three batsman where he will have to fight for a place with Lahiru Thirimanne who batted in that slot in the Pakistan series before an injury kept him out
“Dhananjaya will fit into the opener or no. 3 slot if he is selected because we have Thirimanne also at no. 3 depending on the coach and captain’s choice,” Labrooy said.
On the selection of Mathews, Labrooy said, “With his experience and all we need him in the side. He is 100 percent fit but he will definitely not bowl in the Tests but in the ODIs and T20Is. The physio has cleared him and we are looking at him to bowl not the full quota of 10 overs. He will bowl in the T20I as well because if he doesn’t we will have issues balancing the side.
“We will see how Mathews goes in the Tests and then take a call whether we want to play him in the ODIs against India or to rest him because immediately after that we have the Bangladesh tour coming up. He is more important for us in the Tests at the moment because for the ODIs Asela (Gunaratne) and Kusal (Perera) will be ready to support our middle order,” said Labrooy.
Gunaratne and Perera were not considered for the Indian Test series as they were short of match practice after recovering from their injuries. They are expected to play in the upcoming under 23 tournament where each team is allowed a minimum of five senior players. Labrooy said that Shanaka has been picked to play the role of a medium-paced all-rounder in the side.
“We are looking at a medium paced all-rounder like Dilruwan Perera who is a spinning all-rounder. We want to nurture and bring forward a medium pace all-rounder like how when Angelo Mathews started. That’s why Shanaka is in the side. We are taking only three pacies and Shanaka will be the fourth.”
Shanaka who has appeared in only one Test began his debut on a sensational note taking the wickets of England’s Alastair Cook (16), Nick Compton (0) and Joe Root (0) in eight balls to finish with figures of 3 for 46 in the Leeds Test last year.
PRADEEP ONLY FOR ODIs
Shanaka has been included at the expense of Nuwan Pradeep who has been rested from the Test series and according to the chairman of selectors is being considered only for the ODI matches. “Because of his injuries and he has a history of it when he plays for long we have decided to rest him from the Test side. He is fit but we took a decision not to play him in the long term game but to bring him into the ODIs and play him at least for the next three tours,” said Labrooy.
“We will see how his body shapes up and if he can prove himself to be injury free in those three series then we will consider him for Tests. On the short term we have taken a decision to leave him out and allow his body to recover and then come back into the Test side,” he said.
With Samarawickrama promoted to open the batting, Labrooy said that skipper Dinesh Chandimal would be the reserve wicket-keeper to Niroshan Dickwella.
“It will be difficult for Sadeera to open and keep wickets. For now Chandimal is what we are looking at to step in as second wicket-keeper – that’s a short term option,” Labrooy said. Sri Lanka leaves for India on October 8 and commence the three-Test series at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on November 16. The second and third Tests are scheduled for November 24 and December 2 at Nagpur and Delhi.