As many as ten players opted out of Sri Lanka’s tour of Pakistan last year, the last time they played ODI cricket, and Sri Lanka have included many of them in a strong squad led by Dimuth Karunaratne, who was one of the players to withdraw, for the three-ODI series against West Indies starting Saturday.
The 15-man squad also sees the return of Niroshan Dickwella, who last played an ODI in March 2019 before being dropped for the home games against Bangladesh in July. He also chose not to travel to Pakistan, as did Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews, all now back in the squad.
The seam bowling attack for the series comprises of Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara and Isuru Udana, but is without senior bowler Suranga Lakmal, who played in the World Cup last year, but has been omitted from ODIs since. There were no surprises on the spin front: Wanindu Hasaranga, who impressed in Pakistan, and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan, are the frontline options. The offspin of De Silva is also there as support. Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera and Mathews are the secondary seam bowling options.
Opener Danushka Gunathilaka, meanwhile, missed out on selection due to injury, with the selectors instead going with Shehan Jayasuriya. Upul Tharanga, another opening candidate, did not make the squad despite hitting 120 against West Indies in a practice match on Monday. Asela Gunaratne, who also did well in that match, misses out as well.
“Whoever misses out, it doesn’t mean they’re not good enough to play for the national side,” SLC Chief Selector Ashantha De Mel told ESPNcricinfo. “But it’s a difficult balance to give players a prolonged run in the side, while at the same time giving fringe players a chance.
“In the end these are decisions that are not just taken by the selectors, but also the coaches and captain.”
Lahiru Thirimanne had led Sri Lanka in the ODIs in Pakistan, but he was dropped for the upcoming games after scoring 36 and 0 in the two completed games in Karachi, both of which Sri Lanka lost.
Minod Bhanuka, Oshada Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Sadeera Samarawickrama and Angelo Perera were some of the younger players who made the trip to Pakistan but missed out this time, with the return of the high-profile players.
The three ODIs will be played on February 22 and 26 and March 1 in Colombo, Hambantota and Pallekele respectively, before the teams contest two T20Is.
Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara