Sri Lanka Test squad: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Roshen Silva, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Dushmantha Chameera, Lakshan Sandakan, Akila Dhananjaya, Lahiru Gamage and Lahiru Kumara.
ONE: Rex Clementine, in Sunday Island, 14 January 2017
Sri Lanka have dropped promising top order batsman Sadeera Samarawickrama for the two match Test series against Bangladesh. Samarawickrama, who made his Test debut against Pakistan during the tour of UAE, played all three Tests against India and finished with 74 runs in six innings. The 22-year-old is one of the brightest prospects around having finishing the last domestic season as the highest run getter. His close-in fielding earned the praise of former Indian cricketers as he fearlessly stood at short leg after begin repeatedly hit by Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli.
Top order batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, who was vice-captain during the Indian series, has also been axed as Sri Lanka recalled Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka. Roshen Silva, who made a crucial unbeaten 74 in the drawn Delhi Test has been retained. Selections for the opening Test in Chittagong will become interesting as Sri Lanka played seven batsmen during their last Test in Delhi.
The tourists also have the option of opening with Dhananjaya de Silva, who scored a match saving hundred in the third Test against India batting at number six.
Vishwa Fernando, who toured India has also been dropped along with all-rounder Dasun Shanaka, who played two Tests in India as Sri Lanka opted for perhaps the two fastest bowlers in the country at the moment – Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera.
Akila Dhananjaya, who has been a regular in ODI cricket was also named in the Test squad. He is one of the four spinners in the 16 member squad along side veteran Rangana Herath, off-spinner Dilruwan Perera and chinaman bowler Laksham Sandakan.
Opposition batsmen have failed to pick Akila Dananjaya’s variations in shorter formats of the game and the selectors believe that he could be effective in Test cricket as well. He is also considered the long term replacement for seniors like Herath and Dilruwan Perera.
Fast bowler Suranga Lakmal has been named as vice-captain to Dinesh Chandimal. The 30-year-old has earned the respect of his peers and team management as a genuine team man.
The first Test is scheduled for the 31st of January. Prior to the two match Test series, Sri Lanka will be involved in a tri-nation competition also involving Zimbabwe.
With a new head coach Chandika Hathurusingha in place whose inputs are valued as much as the Test captain’s, the 16-member Sri Lanka squad picked for the two Tests against Bangladesh saw some interesting changes and a surprise appointment brought about that would probably shape future Test teams.
There was no place for batsmen who failed to contribute in the last Test series against India and it was no surprise to see Lahiru Thirimanne and Sadeera Samarawickrama being left out. So has fast bowling all-rounder Dasun Shanaka and left-arm pacie Vishwa Fernando.
Recalled to the Test squad are batsmen Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka, fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara and spinner Akila Dananjaya who comes into contention for a place in the Test side for the first time in his career.
Since making his international debut in 2012 Dananjaya an off-spinner who bowls several other varieties as well including a leg-break has always been recognised as a one-day bowler appearing in 14 ODIs and 9 T20Is for his country.
However for this tour of Bangladesh Dananjaya forms a four-prong spin attack headed by veteran spinner Rangana Herath and comprising Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan. With Nuwan Pradeep confined to play only in one-day games for the present time, the pace attack headed by Suranga Lakmal looks thin in experience compared to the spin combination with Chameera, and the two Lahirus – Gamage and Kumara having appeared in a total combination of 18 Tests among them forming the quartet.
Lakmal who leads Tamil Union in the domestic Premier tournament and has quietly worked himself to become the spearhead of the Lankan fast bowling attack has been given extra responsibilities being rewarded with the Test vice-captaincy for the first time.
The 30-year-old fast bowler from down south has proved to be a reliable workhorse for his team and will help captain Dinesh Chandimal in the two Tests against Bangladesh scheduled to take place in Chittagong from January 31-February 4 and Dhaka from February 8-12.
Whether Lakmal’s appointment is only for the Bangladesh series is a matter of conjecture for the Sunday Observer reliably learns that opener Dimuth Karunaratne’s name also figured prominently in the discussions.
Karunaratne will have his fourth opening partner in 12 months with Danushka Gunathilaka slotted into seeing off the new ball with him. Karunaratne had a prolific run in 2017 with over 1000 Test runs and has opened with Upul Tharanga, Kaushal Silva and Sadeera Samarawickrama in the past year. The selectors have opted for Gunathilaka instead of Kaushal Silva as they want a more enterprising batsman to support Karunaratne who is a solid player and one who plays the anchor role for his team. Gunathilaka they feel plays straighter than Samarawickrama or Kusal Perera and can still keep the scoreboard ticking.
The return of Kusal Mendis was quite obvious. He was given time off to get runs in domestic cricket and regain his confidence and that is what Mendis did stroking a magnificent 177 for CCC against Moors in a Premier league game last month to sound the selectors.
Asela Gunaratne who lost his place in the team due to a thumb injury fails to regain his position as the selectors have retained Roshen Silva after his gutty half-century against India at Delhi to draw the third Test last month.
The Lankan batting line up thus reads: Karunaratne, Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Mendis, Mathews, Dickwella, Roshen Silva/Dilruwan Perera plus four bowlers depending on the type of wickets they will get in Bangladesh.
A NOTE ……. Saádi has forgotten Chandimal rather than dropped him