Lasith Malinga has been “rested” from Sri Lanka’s T20 squad, one week after he had left the Bangladesh Premier League early due to personal reasons. Suranga Lakmal has also been omitted. Only six players remain from the T20 squad that faced Pakistan in October, as several first team players – left out of that last squad after their refusal to travel to Lahore over safety concerns – make their way back into the team.
In the squad, however are slew of allrounders: left-arm spinners Sachith Pathirana and Chaturanga de Silva included. Akila Dananjaya is the lone specialist spinner.
Malinga’s exit from the BPL had been vexing – he returned to Sri Lanka ahead of the final of that tournament, which his team, Rangpur Riders, was playing in. Few details were given about what precipitated that departure, and the Sri Lankan selectors have not divulged why he is being rested for the forthcoming series.
What is clear, however, is that his form has been extremely patchy of late. His economy rate in his two most-recent BPL games was well over 10. His international form since returning from ankle surgery in 2015 has been modest as well. Though available for ODIs, Malinga has already been dropped from that format.
On the batting front. Kusal Perera is in competition with the likes of Sadeera Samarawickrama, Danushka Gunathilaka and Upul Tharanga for top-order places. Kusal has not played an international since injuring his hamstring during the Champions Trophy in June, and Niroshan Dickwella has established himself as Sri Lanka’s wicketkeeper batsman across formats, in the interim.
The absence of Lakmal and Malinga leaves the seam-bowling contingent short of experience – Dushmantha Chameera and Nuwan Pradeep having played 15 T20 internationals between them, while Vishwa Fernando is uncapped. Sri Lanka does have the seam bowling of Angelo Mathews and captain Thisara Perera to call upon, however.
The T20s will be played in Cuttack, Indore and Mumbai, starting on December 20.
Sri Lanka T20 squad:
Thisara Perera (capt.), Upul Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella, Asela Gunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dasun Shanaka, Chaturanga de Silva, Sachith Pathirana, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando