New-look Sri Lanka names eight changes for Zimbabwe ODIs

14 January, 2022

New-look Sri Lanka names eight changes for Zimbabwe ODIs

COLOMBO: After much chopping and changing, Sri Lanka have finally announced their 17-man squad for the upcoming home ODI series against Zimbabwe, with eight changes from their last outing against South Africa – though even more had originally been slated. Kusal Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Avishka Fernando, Dhananjaya de Silva are the biggest names to miss out ––– the first two are nursing injuries, the third tested positive for Covid-19, and Dhananjaya is on paternity leave following the birth of his first child. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, meanwhile, ruled himself out of contention following his decision to retire ––– a decision he has now rescinded. Lahiru Kumara was named in the squad but failed Sri Lanka’s newly beefed-up fitness tests. Pace bowler Binura Fernando and spinner Akila Dananjaya are the other two to miss the cut.

In their place come Kusal Mendis, Jeffrey Vandersay and the uncapped trio of Nuwan Thushara, Shiran Fernando and Chamika Gunasekara; Dinesh Chandimal, Nuwan Pradeep and Kamindu Mendis meanwhile have been recalled, having been dropped from the initial squad. Indeed, Sri Lanka’s selectors had originally planned to go with an even more fresh-faced unit with the uncapped trio of Kalana Perera, Kamil Mishara and Janith Liyanage also included, but the latter two tested positive for Covid-19 while the former fell short of fitness requirements. Of the three, Liyanage will likely be the most disappointed, following a breakout LPL campaign with the Dambulla Giants. The dropouts meant room opened up for some familiar faces to return with the biggest beneficiaries from the rejigged squad undoubtedly Chandimal and Mendis, both of whom had outstanding LPL campaigns and would have been forgiven for feeling a little hard done to have been omitted in the first place.

The pair supplement a batting line-up that boasts quite a bit of potential if not international experience, led by the promising young duo of Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka. Lower down, allrounders Chamika Karunaratne, Dasun Shanaka and Ramesh Mendis offer big-hitting prowess, while Minod Bhanuka will likely vie with Chandimal for wicketkeeping duties. On the bowling front, the pace contingent will be led by the ever-improving Dushmantha Chameera, who finished 2021 as the year’s leading ODI wicket-taker, albeit with the necessary caveat of having played the most matches and the lack of ODI involvement by other Test-playing nations. The veteran Pradeep and uncapped trio of Thushara, Shiran Fernando and Chamika Gunasekera are the other seamers in the squad – though the likes of Shanaka and Karunaratne also offer alternatives.

Full squad: Dasun Shanaka (capt.), Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Minod Bhanuka, Charith Asalanka, Chamika Karunaratne, Kamindu Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana, Ramesh Mendis, Praveen Jayawickrama, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Thushara, Chamika Gunasekera, Shiran Fernando.