Sri Lankan Cricket Board on Saturday announced a 16-member strong and dynamic Test squad under the newly appointed head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, including batsmen Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka.
After the tri-nation ODI series involving Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka here, the Island nation will play a two-match Test series against the Tigers beginning on January 31 at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in the port city of Chittagong.
The second Test match will be held at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka from February 8 to 12.
Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya and Lahiru Kumara were included in the Hathurusingha’s Test squad dropping Vishwa Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka and Lahiru Thirimanne.
In the Test team, the board gave an emphasis that paced Dushmantha Chameera and 20-year-old Lahiru Kumara being picked. But it is the first-time selection of unorthodox off-spinner Akila Dananjaya that is the strongest indication that the selectors and new coach are looking at taking Sri Lanka’s attack in a new direction.
Alongside the likes of Chameera, Kumara and Dananjaya are more experienced hands. Suranga Lakmal has been rewarded for a good 2017 with the team’s vice-captaincy. Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera head up the spin department, with left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan also included. Right-arm seam bowler Lahiru Gamage has been picked as well.
There are notable omissions. Nuwan Pradeep has been left out, with the selectors seemingly now considering him for limited-overs duties alone, due largely to his propensity to pick up injuries in Test cricket. Allrounder Dasun Shanaka, who had some success with the ball against India, has been dropped, as has left-arm quick Vishwa Fernando. That batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne and Sadeera Samarawickrama were also dropped is little surprise, given their lack of runs in India, but more unexpected is the omission of allrounder Asela Gunaratne, and batsman Kusal Perera – both of whom are in the ODI squad.
Gunathilaka has been chosen, however – perhaps on potential. It is possible he will open the batting alongside Karunaratne.
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 Dananjaya, Lahiru Gamage and Lahiru Kumara.unb