Saturday, 25 January 2014 00:01
ESPNCricinfo: Ajantha Mendis has been named in Sri Lanka’s Test squad to Bangladesh, after he had been directed to return from the Big Bash League at short notice this week. Batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage has also been named in the 15-man squad, which left for Bangladesh on Thursday morning.
Mendis replaces offspinner Sachithra Senanayake from the squad that toured the UAE, while Vithanage is in the team for Lahiru Thirimanne, who remains sidelined with the ankle injury he sustained during the ODI series against Pakistan in December. Kusal Perera had been Thirimanne’s replacement on that tour, but having not got a game against Pakistan, Kusal has been overlooked. The 13 others in the squad for the Pakistan series are unchanged.
Mendis has been increasingly regarded a limited-overs spinner, but on this tour offers variety from the orthodox spin-bowling styles of left-armer Rangana Herath and offspinner Dilruwan Perera. Both Mendis and Vithanage last played Tests in March 2013, also against Bangladesh. Vishwa Fernando, the 22-year-old left-arm quick, was among those retained from the tour to the UAE, where he did not get a game. Said to possess considerable pace, generated from a jerky action, he will support the leading trio of fast bowlers Shaminda Eranga, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep, while continuing his work with the national trainer and fast bowling coach Chaminda Vaas.
Positive left-handed batsman Vithanage has not been in great domestic form over the past months, but is considered among Sri Lanka’s brightest middle order prospects. He had hit a half-century on Test debut against Bangladesh, in Galle.
The national selectors awaited the return of the team from the UAE before announcing the squad. The team will play two Tests, in Dhaka and Chittagong, after the tour was given the green light by Sri Lanka Cricket amid security concerns. The first Test will begin on Monday, less than a week after Sri Lanka played their previous Test, in Sharjah.
Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Kithuruwan Vithanage, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Rangana Herath, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Shaminda Eranga, Vishwa Fernando.