Dinesh Chandimal, the newly-appointed Sri Lanka Test captain, will miss at least the first Test against India after contracting pneumonia. Rangana Herath, who captained Sri Lanka in four Tests in the 2016-17 season, will lead the side in Galle, in Chandimal’s stead.
“We were actually only told late last night – the blood Test came a bit late. He’s got pneumonia,” Asanka Gurusinha, Sri Lanka’s cricket manager, said of Chandimal on Friday. “He was admitted to hospital this morning at 9am, and he’s definitely out of the first Test.
“The doctors have advised us this morning to say: ‘Finish the first Test’ and they’ll advise us afterwards. If they tell us he needs another week to recover, that’s it. We can’t do anything. He had started feeling unwell on Tuesday after the Zimbabwe Test, but we never suspected it would be anything like pneumonia.” Chandimal has, however, been cleared of dengue, which has been rife in Sri Lanka over the past few months.
His absence is a significant blow to the team, not just because Chandimal is captain, but also as he is part of a relatively settled top order. In addition, Chandimal will have had fond memories of the most recent India Test in Galle, where his rapid 162 not out helped overturn a first-innings deficit of 193.
Although limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga is in the side, Herath’s experience has landed him stand-in captaincy. Herath most recently led the Test side in the 1-1 draw against Bangladesh, in March.
“Most probably the captain is going to be Rangana, because for now it’s just one Test, and he has done the job before,” Gurusinha said.
The news is slightly better for Sri Lanka elsewhere on the injury front. Asela Gunaratne, who had experienced tightness in the hamstring during the Zimbabwe Test, is likely to be available for the match. “He’s good – we got the green light from the physio this morning, but we’ll still have to put him through his paces over the next few days,” Gurusinha said. “Asela is a very resilient guy. Very tough.”
Fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who had also missed the Zimbabwe Test also with a hamstring injury, has recovered sufficiently to be named in the squad Gurusinha confirmed. The full squad is expected to be announced late on Friday.