Fast bowler Suranga Lakmal has been named Sri Lanka’s new Test vice-captain. He will be assisting Dinesh Chandimal in Bangladesh, where the team will be play a two-match series starting on January 31.
The 16-member squad includes Kusal Mendis, whom the selectors chose to rest when Sri Lanka toured India recently so that the 22-year old can regain lost confidence. Since scoring a splendid 110 on a raging turner in Colombo, Mendis has taken part in three Tests and six ODIs but in all that time he couldn’t go past a score of 39. In December though, playing first-class cricket, he came in at 0 for 1 and struck 177 for Colombo Cricket Club.
In recent times, Lakmal has been one of the first names put down in a Sri Lankan XI. He leads the fast bowling attack, posing considerable threat when there is movement on offer, and presenting the captain with enough control when there isn’t. On a green track at Eden Gardens, he took seven wickets for 119 runs across two innings. And when Sri Lanka whitewashed Pakistan on UAE’s barren pitches, he claimed six wickets at 21.66.
Assisting Lakmal will be Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara, who have been recalled into the squad. Akila Dananjaya, the 24-year old offspinner, has won a call up to the Test side on the basis of some steady performances in limited-overs cricket. Memorably, a day after his marriage, he took 6 for 54 to give India a massive fright in a chase of 237.
Danushka Gunathilaka, who played his only Test in June, has a chance to improve his figures. He has been picked ahead of Sadeera Samarawickrama, who opened the batting in India could not provide the team with much more than attractive cameos.
Dhananjaya de Silva and Roshen Silva, who struck an unbeaten hundred and fifty respectively to draw the final Test against India in Delhi, have retained their places. Batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, allrounder Dasun Shanaka and left-arm quick Vishwa Fernando, though, have lost theirs.