Overlooked for the tour of India, Kusal Mendis returns to the Sri Lankan team for the two-Test series in Bangladesh starting later this month, while Suranga Lakmal, the paceman, has been elevated as Dinesh Chandimal’s deputy in the other development of note.
Sri Lanka’s selectors on Saturday (January 13) named a 16-man squad that will play Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong from January 31 to February 4, and at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur from February 8 to 12.
Mendis, the free-stroking right-hand batsman who averages 33.51 from 22 Tests, was dropped for the series in India after modest returns in the UAE against Pakistan, where he made just 58 runs from four innings. He will lend substance to a top order that floundered against India at the start of the tour.
Out goes Sadeera Samarawickrama, the right-hand opener who managed a mere 74 runs in five innings in India, while Danushka Gunathilaka, whose only Test appearance came against India in Galle last year, has been called back into the Test squad. Lahiru Thirimanne, the veteran left-hand batsman, has been axed to accommodate Mendis.
Akila Dananjaya, the little mystery spinner who has made a name for himself in white-ball international cricket but is yet to make his Test debut, has broken in to the squad ahead of Jeffrey Vandersay, the legspinner. Back too are Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, who replace fellow-pacemen Vishwa Fernando and Dasun Shanaka.
Lakmal’s promotion to vice-captaincy comes after a stirring tour of India where he took eight wickets in the three-Test series, and four in the three-match One-Day International series. Lakmal exposed India’s frailties against the moving ball in favourable conditions with match returns of 7 for 119 in the drawn Kolkata Test, and 4 for 13 in the first ODI in Dharamsala, which Sri Lanka won by seven wickets.
Sri Lankan Test squad: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Roshen Silva, Rangana Herath, Suranga Lakmal (vice-capt), Dilruwan Perera, Dushmantha Chameera, Lakshan Sandakan, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Gamage, Lahiru Kumara.