Angelo Mathews returns to the Sri Lankan squad for their three-match Test series in India starting in Kolkata on November 16, Sri Lanka Cricket announced on Sunday (November 5).
Mathews, the 30-year-old former captain, missed the entire series against Pakistan comprising two Tests, five One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals in September-October with a calf strain. The allrounder’s presence will be a huge boost to Dinesh Chandimal, who will hope to build on the 2-0 sweep of Pakistan in the Test series in the United Arab Emirates. Mathews averages 44.93 from 69 Test matches, having made 4718 runs with seven hundreds and 27 fifties.
Also returning to the 15-man Test party are Dhananjaya de Silva and Lahiru Thirimanne, the experienced batsmen, as well as Dasun Shanaka, the right-arm medium pacer whose only previous Test appearance was in Leeds against England in May last year. Missing from the squad that travelled to the UAE are Kaushal Silva, the opening batsman, as well as Kusal Mendis, the vastly talented No. 3 batsman, and Nuwan Pradeep, the paceman.
Mathews played in all Tests, as well as the five ODIs and the lone T20I, when India travelled to Sri Lanka between July and September this year and won all nine matches. However, he played only as a batsman in the Tests, and bowled just a handful of overs in white-ball play.
Roshen Silva, the 28-year-old right-hand batsman who has played 103 first-class games, is the lone uncapped player in the squad that has tried to bolster the experienced count by bringing in Thirimanne and Mathews. Sri Lanka have never won a Test match in India in 17 attempts, losing 10 and drawing the other seven, and will have their work cut out against the Virat Kohli-led No.1 Test side in the world.
Thilan Samaraweera, the former right-hand batsman, was meanwhile named the batting coach to the national team for three years. Samaraweera, a stodgy and committed batsman, was until recently batting consultant to the Bangladesh team. Samaraweera, 41, played the last of his 81 Tests in March 2013, signing off with 5462 runs at 48.76, including 14 centuries and a high of 231.
Sri Lanka, who will depart for India on November 8, will play a two-day warm-up game against an Indian Board President’s XI in Kolkata from November 11 before the first Test at the Eden Gardens.
Sri Lankan Test squad: Dinesh Chandimal(capt), Dimuth Karunarathne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal, Dilruwan Perera, Lahiru Gamage, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Roshen Silva.