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    Mathews recalled to T20I squad after 18 months

    December 31, 2019

    Former captain Angelo Mathews was included in Sri Lanka’s T20 International squad of 16 for the first time in 18 months for the three-match T20I series in India commencing January 5 at Guwahati.A series of injuries and battles with fitness saw the one-time all-rounder being left out of the shortest format of the game. However of late Mathews has recovered from his injuries and started to bowl which is one of the reasons why he has been included in the squad. He last played in a T20I in August 2018 and had to withdraw from the squad in New Zealand in December the same year due to a hamstring injury.

    Mathews bowling his quota of four overs is a boon to the composition of the team that can then play an additional batsman.However it is very unlikely the veteran cricketer of 72 T20Is, second only to Lasith Malinga’s 79 appearances will figure in the first two T20Is against India as Sri Lanka don’t want to disturb the top six in the order – Kusal Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando and Dasun Shanaka.Named along with Mathews are also wicket-keeper/batsman Niroshan Dickwella and top order bat Kusal Mendis – both of whom are also unlikely to figure in the final eleven at the start of the series.

    Sri Lanka have named nine batsmen for the Indian series, but will have to prune it down to eight for the World T20 next October as each country is allowed only a squad of 15 players. Apart from the nine batsmen Sri Lanka have picked three spinners and four fast bowlers. Leg-spinner Wanindu Hasaranga heads the spinners along with Lakshan Sandakan and Dhananjaya de Silva who in the white ball format will be used more often for his off-breaks than his batting. De Silva pipped another off-spinning all-rounder Shehan Jayasuriya for the post of third spinner largely on his bowling and fielding.

    Old warhorse Lasith Malinga continues to spearhead the fast bowling attack as well as retain the captaincy for yet another series despite the frequent losses Sri Lanka continue to suffer under his leadership. Malinga alone cannot be blamed for the team’s losses for others must also chip in. However as long as he can bowl at his very best the selectors are quite happy to have him as the captain.

    Supporting Malinga are Lahiru Kumara and Isuru Udana. A fourth seamer has to be named after Nuwan Pradeep who was selected twisted his ankle at practice two days ago and has been ruled out for six weeks thus making himself unavailable for the tour.


    The selectors are looking for a replacement for Pradeep and have Kasun Rajitha as one of the possibilities. Rajitha however has to undergo a fitness test today on a hamstring injury which he picked up during the recently concluded Test series in Pakistan early this month.

    The other options left for the selectors are youngster Asitha Fernando and experienced Suranga Lakmal who was forced to miss the Pakistan Test series after contracting dengue. The selectors would be keen to give Lakmal a chance to gain some useful match fitness ahead of the two-Test series against Zimbabwe which takes place immediately after the T20I series in India ends on January 10.

    Sri Lanka faces a tough three-match series against an in-form Indian side that has been strengthened by the inclusion of the number one ranked ODI bowler Jasprit Bumrah who has recovered from a stress fracture of the back. The three T20Is are scheduled to be played at Guwahati (January 5), Indore (January 7) and Pune (January 10).


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