Addressing the media on the eve of the Sri Lanka squad taking wing for Zimbabwe at Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters, Chairman of selectors, Asantha de Mel said that consideration had been given to balancing the middle order by retaining veteran batsman Angelo Mathews and former captain Dinesh Chandimal. As a result pinch hitting batsman Kusal Janith Perera who had virtually single handedly won a Test match against South Africa by scoring one of the best ever 4th innings had to be omitted. His last four innings had yielded just 1, 23, 0 and 0. The decision to drop Perera was taken in consultation with Head Coach Mickey Arthur.
“Most probably we will opt for the same batting lineup as we did against Pakistan in Karachi with Angelo Mathews at four, Dinesh Chandimal at five, Dhananjaya de Silva at six and Niroshan Dickwella keeping. Also, Kusal has an issue with his hamstrings where he can’t run around the field as much and because Dickwella is the main wicket-keeper, we thought there was no point taking another keeper,” de Mel elaborated.
The chief selector went on to defend the decision of retaining Lahiru Thirimanne whose batting average form 68 innings was 22.64. “Yes, Kusal can make 150s, but we needed someone who can occupy the crease, which is why we chose Thirimanne,” de Mel contended. “Thirimanne can also bat in the top order or as an opener.”
De Mel added that the Zimbabwe 2-test tour would be the ideal test whether Thirimanne can deliver ahead of the England series at home. If we dropped him now, we can’t even look at him for the England series, so we’ll see how he does in this series.”
The first Test between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe commences on January 19 while the second test will take place on January.
SRI LANKA SQUAD:
Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket–