What's the story?
Sri Lanka have announced their squad for the upcoming 3-match ODI series against India. In a 16-member finalised by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), dynamic batsmen Kusal Janith Perera and Asela Gunaratne return to the national team. However, there was no place for Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal or the highly talented Kusal Mendis.
In the bowling department, seamer Nuwan Pradeep makes his comeback after being rested for the Test series. But veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga continues to be overlooked. Akila Dananjaya spearheads their spin attack which also comprises the likes of Sachith Pathirana and Chaturanga de Silva.
Full Sri Lanka ODI Squad: Thisara Perera (c), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Chaturanga de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushmantha Chameera, Sachith Pathirana and Kusal Perera
Earlier in the day, a controversy erupted as Sri Lanka's Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera ostensibly withheld the limited-overs specialists from leaving for India as he was reportedly unhappy with the squad picked by SLC's selection panel.
The heart of the matter
Kusal Perera's last appearance for Sri Lanka came in their shock triumph against India during the 2017 edition of the Champions Trophy at the Oval. Upon suffering a hamstring injury in that particular game, he was forced to spend the last five months on the sidelines.
Asela Gunaratne, who had picked up a thumb fracture during the Galle Test against India, was also cleared for selection by the medical staff. Sri Lanka had left out Nuwan Pradeep and Kusal Mendis from the Test series due to various concerns ranging from swelling workload to loss of form. While the seamer has returned to the ODI squad, the 22-year old batsman did not make the cut once again.
Led by newly appointed captain Thisara Perera, the new entrants (those not part of the Test squad) are expected to arrive in India tomorrow. The first ODI is scheduled to take place at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala on December 10.
From the originally proposed squad, it appears as if the Sports Minister has made a couple of changes to the touring contingent. While the continued exclusion of a gifted batsman like Mendis is quite baffling, the Sri Lankan set-up will be relieved by the return of Perera, Gunaratne and Pradeep. Nevertheless, Thisara's troops have a major challenge on their hands if they are to overturn the recent dire sequence of results in white-ball cricket.