Allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva has been dropped for Sri Lanka’s one-off Test against Zimbabwe, which begins in Colombo on Friday. Batsman Kusal Perera and fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep will miss the game with injuries, while fast bowlers Vishwa Fernando and Dushmantha Chameera return to the squad.
Limited-overs opener Danushka Gunathilaka, meanwhile, made his first entry into a Test squad, thanks largely to his excellent ODI form over the past six weeks. Gunathilaka scored 323 runs at an average of 64.60 to top the run charts in the recent Zimbabwe series, and had also made 76 in Sri Lanka’s Champions Trophy victory over India, at the Oval.
Angelo Mathews, who missed Sri Lanka’s previous Test series – against Bangladesh at home in March – due to a hamstring injury that kept him out for several months in the first half of the year, also returned to the squad. Having quit as captain in all formats on Tuesday, Mathews will not be leading in a Test for the first time since 2013. It will be Dinesh Chandimal’s first Test as captain.
De Silva’s exclusion is surprising on two fronts. First, he had suggested he was a batsman of substantial promise when he top-scored in Sri Lanka’s triumphant series against Australia last year. Second, he has prospered against Zimbabwe in the recent past, making scores of 25, 64, 127 and 9 in four Test innings against them in October and November last year. De Silva was said to have suffered an ankle injury in the recent past, but is now fully fit and available for selection.
Despite Pradeep’s absence, the return of Chameera adds an edge to the seam attack. Between him and Lahiru Kumara, Sri Lanka have, for the first time in years, two bowlers who can consistently clock 145kph on the speed gun. Suranga Lakmal is the sole experienced hand from among the quicks, with left-armer Vishwa Fernando having only played one Test as well.
The spin attack, meanwhile, bore no surprises. Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera and Lakshan Sandakan made up the frontline contingent. Asela Gunaratne and Danushka Gunathilaka also provide slow-bowling options.
Niroshan Dickwella is likeliest to take the gloves, with Chandimal now captaining the side. The one-off Test begins in Khettarama on Friday, and follows Sri Lanka’s 3-2 defeat to Zimbabwe in the ODI series.
Squad Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Dimuth Karunaratne, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara