Chandimal makes comeback


Dinesh Chandimal makes a return to the Asia Cup squad along with seamer Asitha Fernando and middle-order batter Ashen Bandara , while left-arm quick Dilshan Madushanka has been named in a T20 squad for the first time. Also making comebacks are allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva and legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay who was not part of the squad that played Australia in June. Round-arm seamer Matheesha Pathirana has been picked as well.

Chandimal was part of the T20 squad that toured Australia and India earlier this year, but was then dropped for the T20Is at home against Australia in June. He returns for the Asia Cup largely on the back of strong performances in Test cricket against Australia and Pakistan.

Left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan, fast bowler Nuwan Thushara, and allrounders Ramesh Mendis and Lahiru Madushanka were left out of the squad.

Seamers Binura Fernando and Kasun Rajitha, who were strongly considered for the squad, were ruled out by injury. But even among those who have made the squad, there is one major injury concern: key fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera’s ankle is understood to not have completely recovered from a recent injury. He will likely be given as much time as possible to regain match fitness at some point in the tournament.

The names of Asitha Fernando and Pramod Madushan have been sent to the Sports Minister for approval as replacements for Binura and Rajitha.

The injuries mean there will be additional pressure on what is an inexperienced seam bowling unit. Aside from the uncapped (in T20Is) Fernando, the 21-year-old Madushanka and the uncapped 19-year-old Pathirana, Sri Lanka have only allrounders Chamika Karunaratne, and Dasun Shanaka as seam options. Fernando, however, did top the wicket charts with 10 dismissals while maintaining an economy rate of 6.87 in the recent SLC Invitational (domestic T20) tournament.

 The spin department appears more settled, with Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana and Praveen Jayawickrama being joined by Vandersay. While Vandersay did not play in the T20Is against Australia in June, he had been in decent bowling form in the ODIs, and claimed 3 for 12 in a recent domestic match.

Bandara, meanwhile, gets back into the squad on the back of good performances in that domestic tournament. Batting at No.5, he hit 134 runs across four innings, albeit at a strike rate of 117.54. He last played for Sri Lanka in July 2021.

On the batting front, there is no room again for Niroshan Dickwella, who had a decent run in the domestic tournament. Kusal Mendis (who topped the runs chart), Danushka Gunathilaka, and Pathum Nissanka will vie for the top-order spots. Bhanuka Rajapaksa is likely to appear in the middle order.

Squad: Dasun Shanaka (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Ashen Bandara, Dhananjaya de Silva, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrama, Chamika Karunaratne, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Nuwanidu Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal.