Sri Lanka vs India 2017: Rangana Herath ruled out of Pallekele Test with back injury
What's the story?
Sri Lanka will have to do without the services of the experienced Rangana Herath for the third and final Test against India with veteran spinner ruled out of the match due to a back injury.
The match is set to be a dead rubber with India winning the first two Test matches comfortably but Herath's absence will make Sri Lanka's hopes of getting a consolation win at Pallekele all the more difficult now.
However, with a busy cricket season ahead for the hosts, the Sri Lankan team management has taken the decision to not risk Herath in the match.
"Rangana complained about back pain and we don't want to take any chances with him. He is our leading bowler and we have a hectic season ahead. Hence we thought not to risk him for the final game, with the series already lost," a Sri Lanka Cricket source told Cricbuzz.
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India have dominated the series so far and has inflicted huge defeats on the hosts with the first Test at the Galle won by the visitors by a margin of 304 runs.
The second Test at the SSC Colombo also turned out to a disappointing one for Sri Lanka though they did improve their showing in the second innings scoring 386 runs after being bundled out for just 183 runs in the first innings.
With India posting a mammoth total of 622 batting first, the hosts lost the match by an innings and 53 runs and thus lost the series with a match to go.
The heart of the matter
Adding to their woes on the field, Sri Lanka has been struggling with injuries with the likes of Asela Gunaratne, Suranga Lakmal, and Nuwan Pradeep being sidelined during the course of the series.
Captain Dinesh Chandimal also missed the first Test due to illness. Herath was Chandimal's deputy in the match and though the 39-year-old had hurt his left middle finger while fielding during the Galle Test, he was declared fit for the second Test.
However, with the series now having slipped out of Sri Lanka's grasps, the team management has decided to give the veteran spinner, who has bowled more than 150 overs in the last three Tests in just over three weeks, time to recover and recoup.
Extra Cover: Under the SKanner: Rangana Herath
While India and Sri Lanka are set to play a five-match ODI series and a lone T20I after the Pallekele Test, Herath is not in contention in the shorter formats of the game and will instead be hoping to regain full fitness and form in time for the two-Test series against Pakistan in the UAE in September.
Sri Lanka are also set to play a three-Test series in India in November.
With the fate of the series already done and dusted, there is no point in risking an important player like Rangana Herath considering the recent injury woes of Sri Lanka.
Speaking after the Colombo Test loss, skipper Dinesh Chandimal had said that he expected more from Herath and perhaps this break will help him recover and recoup his fitness in time for the series against Pakistan.