Although Sri Lanka Cricket had already named a T20 squad ahead of the ODI series, two days out from the one-off match against India, the board has released a new squad, this one featuring legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay and seam-bowling allrounder Dasun Shanaka.
Also in this side are spinner Akila Dananjaya, who was Sri Lanka’s most penetrative bowler in the ODIs, seamer Suranga Lakmal, who has recovered from a back complaint, and allrounders Wanindu Hasaranga, Thisara Perera and Milinda Siriwardana. Seam bowler Isuru Udana has also been named, while Dushmantha Chameera and Vishwa Fernando have been omitted.
Kusal Mendis, whom the management feels is suffering from mental fatigue, has been rested as well.
Vandersay has not played a T20 for Sri Lanka since the World T20 last year, which is perhaps surprising, as he had been one of the team’s standout players in that tournament. His return was complicated by injury, but the selectors have tried other spinners ahead of him as well. Notably absent from this 15 is left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan – a more aggressive but expensive option.*
On the seam-bowling front Sri Lanka have Lasith Malinga, in addition to Lakmal and Vikum Sanjaya. The most senior batsman is Angelo Mathews, and this will also be Upul Tharanga’s first match as full-time T20 captain.
T20s are the one format in which Sri Lanka have a creditable record in 2017. They won both the three-match series against Australia and South Africa, and drew the two-match series against Bangladesh to keep a 5-3 win-loss record. The victories over Australia and South Africa, however, were against substantially depleted teams.
The match is scheduled to be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on September 6.
*The story had earlier stated Seekkuge Prasanna had been ommittted. However, he is in the squad.