A change in selection committee has brought yet another change in the limited-overs leadership, with Lasith Malinga named captain of the ODI and T20 squads to New Zealand. Wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been named vice-captain.
Dinesh Chandimal had most recently led Sri Lanka’s ODI team, against England, while Thisara Perera was the T20 captain in the same tour. But with Graeme Labrooy’s selection committee ousted, and Ashantha de Mel’s panel freshly installed, Malinga has been handed the captaincy, only three months after he made his return to the international level. Malinga had been dropped from Sri Lanka’s teams for over a year, due to form and fitness concerns. He had made his return to the top level during the Asia Cup in September, and has had some success with the ball since then.
Angelo Mathews, who had been axed from the limited-overs squads due to fitness and run-out issues, is back in the squad.
Also in the side is 33-year-old legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna, who last played an ODI in October 2017, and 32-year-old batsman Asela Gunaratne who last played in January. Prasanna’s inclusion may partly have been motivated by the fact that he has played List A cricket in England, where the World Cup will be held next year. There was no place, however, for 23-year-old opener Sadeera Samarawickrama, with Danushka Gunathilaka returning to the limited-overs sides instead.
Elsewhere on the bowling front, there was no Akila Dannajaya following his suspension due to an illegal bowling action, nor in fact for left-arm spinner Amila Aponso. The only frontline slow bowlers in the squad are wristspinners – Prasanna, and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan.
Nuwan Pradeep, Dshmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kumara make up the pace-bowling contingent, where there is no place for Suranga Lakmal.
Chandimal had been ODI captain only for that England series, after Mathews had earlier been stripped of the captaincy and cut from the team entirely. New chief selector de Mel had in fact been critical of Chandimal’s Test captaincy in the past few weeks, suggesting Chandimal was too reliant on coach Chandika Hathurusingha for direction. De Mel said to Sunday Observer: “Chandimal, every time he wants to make a change he is looking at the dressing room. As captain he should be able to stand on his feet and take a decision.”
Mathews, Chandimal and Thisara are all in this squad, but perform no official leadership functions.
Sri Lanka play three ODIs and a T20I in New Zealand. The first of those matches is scheduled to be played on January 3, at Mount Maunganui.
ODI and T20I squad: Lasith Malinga (capt.), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara. (ESPNCricinfo)