Malinda Pushpakumara picked for Sri Lanka’s Test squad

Monday, 24 July 2017 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Dhananjaya de Silva and Nuwan Pradeep make comeback

ESPNCricinfo: Batting allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva, uncapped left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara, and seamer Nuwan Pradeep returned to Sri Lanka’s squad for the first Test against India, in Galle. 

De Silva, who had been left out of the squad for the one-off Test against Zimbabwe, effectively takes Dinesh Chandimal’s place in the 15-man squad, while Pushpakumara displaces left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan, and Pradeep pushes out Dushmantha Chameera.

Though Pushpakumara, 30, has not played any international cricket yet, he has for long been prolific at the first-class level, where he has 558 first-class wickets at an average of 19.85, and is routinely among the top three wicket-takers in the Premier League Tournament. In the most recent season, Pushpakumara’s 77 wickets at 13.79 put him 20 wickets clear of the second-highest wicket-taker. That he has not already played for Sri Lanka is largely due to the fact that Rangana Herath is the team’s incumbent left-arm orthodox spinner.

De Silva’s return to the squad was somewhat expected, following the news that Chandimal would be unavailable for the first Test owing to his hospitalisation for pneumonia on Friday. Though De Silva got a duck against India in the two-day practice match in Colombo, he had impressed in Tests in 2016, when he had highly successful series against Australia and Zimbabwe. His competition for the middle-order spot vacated by Chandimal comes in the form of Danushka Gunathilaka, who is an opener by trade, but has been in excellent form over the past two months, top-scoring in the recent ODI series against Zimbabwe, then hitting a brisk 74 against India in the two-dayer, before he was run out.

A hamstring niggle had sidelined Pradeep for two weeks, but Sri Lanka had always hoped he would regain fitness before the India series. That it is Chameera he is replacing, however, is a slight surprise. Chameera’s pace had made him one of the more promising quicks in Sri Lanka’s battery, and he appeared to be making a steady comeback.

Vishwa Fernando’s left-arm angle, and perhaps his wickets on Friday, may have swung the decision in his favour, however. He had made his Test debut at Galle against Australia last year, in a match that was so heavily dominated by Sri Lanka’s lead spinners that Fernando was only required to bowl two overs. Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara are the two other quicks in what is an especially pace-heavy squad.

Herath has already been confirmed as captain for the Test that starts on Wednesday.

Indian side a formidable force under Kohli’s captaincy, says Brett Lee

IN-4Reuters: Former Australian pace bowler Brett Lee was all praises for Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli who he feels has helped a young side turn into a formidable force.

Lee, who was part of the Australian World Cup winning team in 2003 and 2007, said for a team’s success, it was important that team members believe in their captain and trust its decisions, an aspect which he finds in the current Indian side, the 40-year-old said.

The former Australian great, who has bowled against the likes of Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Kohli in his 13-year long career, said he was a fan of Tendulkar’s batting prowess, but likes Kohli’s swashbuckling style too.

He made the comments during an event in India’s southern Coimbatore city on Saturday (July 22). Under Kohli’s leadership, India enjoyed four consecutive series wins against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia and became the top ranked test nation in the world.

Kohli’s men will now take on Sri Lanka in three tests, five one-day internationals and a one-off twenty20 match starting July 26.