Uncapped Vishwa Fernando, the left-arm seamer, and Malinda Pushpakumara, the left-arm spinner, have been included in Sri Lanka’s 15-man squad for the five-match One-Day International series against India. The duo was a part of Sri Lanka’s attack in the just-concluded Test series, which the side lost 0-3.
Sri Lanka recalled Thisara Perera and Milinda Siriwardana, the allrounders, while Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekara and Lahiru Kumara, the pacers who were a part of their ODI series loss (2-3) against Zimbabwe in July, were left out. The injured Nuwan Pradeep (hamstring tear) and Asela Gunaratne (broken thumb) also missed out.
Following Sri Lanka’s dismal 3-0 Test series loss against India, Upul Tharanga, the captain, urged the fans to rally behind the team in testing times. The series is Tharanga’s first as Sri Lanka’s full-time ODI captain, following Angelo Mathews’s resignation after the Zimbabwe debacle.
“Every team goes through a rough patch,” said Tharanga. “This is something that happens in cycles to every team and every nation no matter how great a cricketing nation they are.
“Sri Lanka dominated in all three formats for a good 18 years – don’t forget this now when we are going through a rough patch. Obviously there are some things we can’t openly discuss due to strategic reasons but there are certain areas behind the scenes that need to fall into place for us. These areas are being taken care of, and we are seeing the results behind the scenes – however it will take a little more time for it to be seen externally, so please have patience, and most importantly have faith.”
Tharanga also reposed faith in the limited-overs squad and felt his side is well equipped to fare better than they did in the Test series. “Sri Lanka have always been stronger in our white-ball format, and I am confident that we will come out strong and beat India,” said Tharanga. “We have the talent, we have the skill. We have been putting in the hard work, we just need the spirit, and for that we need your support too.
“The support of our fans plays a big role in the morale of the team. We play for our country and our goal is to bring pride to our family of 20 million in this nation – so your support is something that matters greatly to us.”
The first ODI will be played in Dumbulla on August 20.
Sri Lanka ODI squad: Upul Tharanga (capt), Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana, Malinda Pushpakumara, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Thisara Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando.