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Dual injury blow for Sri Lanka ahead of Australia clash

Sri Lanka will be forced to make at least two changes for Sunday's crunch cricket World Cup clash with Australia,

Rangana Herath and Dimuth Karunaratne are ruled out in the amtch against Aussies

Sydney, March 6 (IANS) Sri Lanka will be forced to make at least two changes for Sunday's crunch cricket World Cup clash with Australia, with veteran spinner Rangana Herath ruled out and batsman Dimuth Karunaratne being sidelined for the rest of the tournament. The 36-year-old, left-armer Herath has been ruled out after splitting the webbing between his spin fingers in the side's last win over England, reports cricket.com.au.

Officials are hoping Herath will return before the knockout phase of the tournament with Sri Lanka scheduled to play their quarter-final here on Sydney. However, young batsman Karunaratne will miss the rest of the World Cup after fracturing his little finger during Thursday's training session.

"He has to undergo surgery and will be out for about four weeks. He will return home," Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya said. The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday approved all-rounder Seekkuge Prasanna as a replacement for the injured Karunaratne.

Prasanna, on the other hand, has played 22 One-Day Internationals (ODI) in which he has scored 181 runs and taken 21 wickets. His last appearance for Sri Lanka was earlier this year when he played against New Zealand in Wellington.

Prasanna had been flown over as cover for Herath. ICC rules stipulate any injury-enforced changes in a squad are permanent.

As such, Prasanna would only have played against Michael Clarke's men if Herath was ruled out of the tournament. Karunaratne's injury has seemingly solved that issue, ensuring Sri Lanka will field a frontline spinner for Sunday's game.

It leaves the squad short a batsman, with Jayasuriya revealing Kusal Perera will travel to Sydney as a "precautionary measure".

The loser of the weekend's fixture at the SCG will almost certainly finish third in Pool A. That would come with the challenge of a likely quarter-final against South Africa, then a potential semi-final against New Zealand in Auckland.

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