Sri Lanka would hope to usher in a new era with Dinesh Chandimal as Test captain by bouncing back from a 3-2 One-Day International series defeat to Zimbabwe with victory in the one-off Test starting on Friday (July 14) at the R Premadasa Stadium.
Chandimal was appointed captain after Angelo Mathews resigned on Wednesday at the end of a poor run of results for the team across formats, culminating in the defeat in the hands of Zimbabwe, which Mathews called one of the lowest points in his career.
“I am passionate about leading the side and I want to take this team forward and improve our rankings,” said Chandimal, who has in the past led the limited-overs sides, in the lead-up to the Test. “We had a lot of ups and downs in the past year. But we have good young and older players.”
Sri Lanka, ranked No. 7 in Test cricket, lost to Zimbabwe following a fitness and coaching crisis and an early departure from the Champions Trophy 2017.
Danushka Gunathilaka, who did well in the ODI series, is expected to make his Test debut by opening the batting with the experienced Dimuth Karunaratne. Vishwa Fernando, the seamer, is also in the squad while Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera are likely to lead their spin attack after not featuring in the ODIs.
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara.
Zimbabwe: Graeme Cremer (capt), Ryan Burl, Regis Chakabva, Tendai Chatara, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Peter Moor, Chris Mpofu, Carl Mumba, Tarisai Musakanda, Natsai M’shangwe, Sikandar Raza, Donald Tiripano, Malcolm Waller, Nathan Waller, Sean Williams.
Meanwhile, a fired-up Zimbabwe want to maintain their momentum with Hamilton Masakadza, who was named Player of the Series in the ODIs, likely to be the main source of their runs. But beating Sri Lanka in a Test match poses a far greater challenge for the inexperienced Zimbabwe side even though they were confident about their chances.
“This tour has been very special for us. Now we must do well in the Test match to finish off the tour on a high note,” said Graeme Cremer, the Zimbabwe captain.
Masakadza, with 32 caps, is their only player to feature in more than 20 Test matches, and they should be aware that at the same ground 20 years ago Sri Lanka posted a world Test record score of 952 for 6 against India.