Kusal left out of ODI team; Karunaratne, Kulasekara recalled

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: Kusal Perera has been omitted from Sri Lanka’s squad for the one-day series against New Zealand, as they continue to search for a stable opening pair, while seamer Nuwan Kulasekara has been recalled. Lasith Malinga has also been included and, as the coach Marvan Atapattu said recently, is expected to make his comeback from injury in the latter part of the seven-match series. Kusal has played 41 ODIs but has failed to secure his place alongside Tillakaratne Dilshan at the top of the order. In the recent series against England he scored 99 runs in five matches, including two ducks, following a poor tour of India. He was left out of the final two matches against England, with Mahela Jayawardene promoted to open, and Dimuth Karunaratne, who scored his maiden Test century in Christchurch, has been preferred in the 16-man squad. It means Dilshan could have his fifth opening partner in three series if Karunaratne is preferred to open ahead of Jayawardene. Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka captain, has previously been a supporter of Kusal but towards the end of the series against England there was a hint that patience was running thin. “We’ve given opportunities to Kusal,” he said earlier this month. “He’s fared pretty well, I thought, in a couple of games. He could have done better. We expect a lot from him because he is a good player. We’ve got nine more games to try and experiment with the opening slot.” Kulasekara missed the England series - his most recent ODI was when Rohit Sharma made 264 and he took 1 for 89 off nine overs - but produced some solid returns for Colts in Sri Lanka’s domestic 50-over tournament before Christmas. Meanwhile, Malinga is on track to return during the New Zealand series following ankle surgery. Shortly after Sri Lanka arrived in the country, Atapattu ear-marked the final two matches for his return as he builds up to the World Cup. The final World Cup squads need to be named by January 7 which means Sri Lanka will need to confirm their 15-man combination before the one-day series begins.