SL bring Chandimal, Thirimanne in place of Gunathilaka, Tharanga

Saturday, 26 August 2017 00:39 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

dfcvxESPNCricinfo: Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne have been called up to the Sri Lanka squad for the remaining ODIs against India in place of opening batsman Danushka Gunathilaka and captain Upul Tharanga. 

Gunathilaka has been ruled out for 10 days due to a shoulder injury, while Tharanga has been given a two-match suspension by the ICC for Sri Lanka’s slow over rate in the second ODI against India in Pallekele. Chamara Kapugedera will lead the side in Tharanga’s absence.

This will be the second time in three months that Tharanga has been penalised for an over-rates related offence. He also sat out two matches during the Champions Trophy, in early June. In Pallekele, match referee Andy Pycroft had found Sri Lanka to be three overs short of the required target, despite India having completed their chase with more than two overs remaining in the match.

Gunathilaka, meanwhile, sustained his injury in the 33rd over of India’s innings, when he dived to his right from point, to stop an MS Dhoni stroke. He landed heavily on his elbow and keeled over in pain for about 30 seconds before eventually rising to his feet to continue fielding.

Asanka Gurusinha, Sri Lanka’s cricket manager and a selector, said the selectors wanted to stick with Kapugedera, as he was already serving as Tharanga’s deputy in the series.

“The main reason for appointing Kapu as the captain is because he was actually Upul’s deputy in the first two matches, and we wanted to stick with him, rather than bringing someone from outside,” Gurusinha said. “We wanted someone who can hold his place in the side as well. He’s also respected in the team.”

Kapugedera has played 100 ODIs and averages 21.22 in the format with eight fifties. He has not captained Sri Lanka previously. In Pallekele, he made a crucial 40 at No. 7 adding 91 runs with Milinda Siriwardana to boost a floundering Sri Lanka innings. In the last five years, though, Kapugedera averages an unimpressive 11.83 over six ODI innings.

Gunathilaka’s unavailability opens an opportunity for Thirimanne, who last played an ODI for Sri Lanka in January 2016. Thirimanne has fulfilled the role of an opening batsman with some success in the past: he averages 38.94 after 19 innings.

Neither Chandimal nor Thirimanne was part of Sri Lanka’s ODI squad against Zimbabwe last month, having lost form in the format before they were dropped. Chandimal had an excellent 2016 in ODIs, hitting six fifties and two hundreds in 13 innings. But a finger injury broke that spell of form, and he had been modest in 2017 - averaging 22.25 with a strike rate of 65.20 - before he found himself ousted from the squad. In Thirimanne’s case, his woeful Test form resulted in his omission. His ODI average was above 40 in 2015 and 2014.