Colombo - The in-form Sri Lankans have named a powerful squad for the first two One-Day Internationals against South Africa, starting in Colombo on Sunday.
The inclusion of Sachithra Senanayake, who has just returned from two weeks of his action being inspected by the ICC, has raised eyebrows, but the national selectors are hoping he replicates the success he enjoyed last time the Proteas were in town.
“Sachithra has finished his period of observation with the ICC, and the results will be given to us in two weeks. So he is in the squad, and will play if deemed in good enough form. As we understand the rules, he is allowed to play until the ICC tell us otherwise,” a statement from the selectors explained.
Senanayake joins a rash of quality spinners in the local contingent, led by the miserly Rangana Herath. The experienced left-arm orthodox bowler will be expected to play a key role in both the Test and one-day series, and it was intriguing that the Board XI team chosen for the Proteas’ warm-up clash in midweek didn’t include a left-arm spinner.
The squad for the first two one-dayers has seen former captain Dinesh Chandimal, who hit a composed half-century on Thursday, left out. The soft-spoken but talented Chandimal has been out of sorts in recent months, and his exploits in midweek came too late.
“Chandimal is still a very good player, and we expect him to come back into the squad soon,” skipper Angelo Mathews said at the official welcoming press conference.
“We have a young squad, but also some experience, and it is good to know there are a lot of people pushing for a place on the sidelines.”
Mathews warned that the South Africans would provide a formidable test, and said their added experience meant the hosts couldn’t be complacent after their recent exploits. “We’ve done very well recently, played the big moments very well. But we know South Africa are very competitive, and what happened in England is in the past now. This will be a very tough series for us.”
Sri Lankan squad: Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, TM Dilshan, Kusal Janith Perera, (subject to a fitness test) Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardena, Kithruwan Vithanage, Ashan Priyanjana, Upul Tharanga, Sachithra Senanayake, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal