Angelo Mathews has returned to the Sri Lanka squad for the two-Test series against South Africa at home, Sri Lanka Cricket announced on Thursday (July 5). Mathews had to miss the series in West Indies because of the birth of his second child. Sri Lanka are also sweating over the fitness of Rangana Herath and Kusal Perera, both named in the 16-member squad, and their inclusion depends on them clearing the fitness test.
16-man squad: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Angelo Mathews, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Janith Perera (Subject to Fitness), Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Rangana Herath (Subject to fitness), Suranga Lakmal (vc), Dilruwan Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Kumara, Lakshan Sandakan, Kasun Rajitha
Dinesh Chandimal, too, has been included in the squad but his availability is also hanging by a thread. Captain Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha have been charged by the ICC for breaching ICC’s Code of Conduct with regards to behavior contrary to the spirit of cricket and face a hearing on July 10. If they lose the hearing, they could all be suspended for two Tests.
Sri Lanka refused to take the field on the third day of the second Test against Windies after ball-tampering charges were laid against the side. Chandimal was found guilty of changing the condition of the ball and was suspended for the Barbados Test.
Fitness issues continue to grapple the side ahead of their home assignment against South Africa. Herath spilt the webbing in his on the right hand and had to miss the day-night fixture in Barbados while Kusal crashed into the boundary hoardings while trying to take a catch in the third Test and had to be rushed to the hospital.
While Kusal was cleared of any serious injuries, and came out to bat to lead Sri Lanka to a win on the fourth day, he is still recovering from that mishap. Asitha Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Malinda Pushpakumara and Shehan Jayasuriya have been selected as standbys in case the hosts need reinforcements. Mahela Udawatte, who struggled in the two Tests against Windies, has been dropped while Jeffrey Vandersay too failed to find a place after his disciplinary issues in the Caribbean.
Lakshan Sandakan, who last played a Test against Bangladesh earlier this year, has been included in the side after picking a five-wicket haul against Bangladesh A last month in Chittagong. Jayasuriya has been in good form and was adjudged the Man of the Series after Galle’s win in the domestic limited-overs tournament.
Pushpakumara last featured in a Test against India in August last year. He made his debut in the second Test and played the third clash as well before being dropped from the side.
Sri Lanka will play the first Test in Galle from July 12 before moving to Colombo for the second Test from July 20. They will then feature in a five-match ODI series before South Africa’s tour-ending one-off T20I in Colombo on August 14.
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