Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara in Sri Lanka’s T20 World Cup squad, subject to fitness

Sri Lanka have shown faith with the group of players that won the Asia Cup, with the inclusions of fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara – who missed that tournament due to injury – the only change, as they named their 15-man squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in Australia.

From the squad that toured the UAE, batters Dinesh Chandimal, Ashen Bandara and Nuwanidu Fernando, and left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama have been listed as standby players alongside left-arm quick Binura Fernando. This means Matheesha Pathirana, Asitha Fernando and Nuwan Thushara miss out.

The inclusions of Chameera and Kumara, however, are subject to them being passed fit. Kumara is recovering from a hamstring strain, while Chameera has been nursing an ankle injury – which spread into his calf and forced him out of the Asia Cup squad.Much of Sri Lanka’s hopes of going deep in the World Cup, on bouncy Australian pitches, will hinge on their fitness, with these two the only bowlers in their ranks capable of consistently hitting speeds in the 145kph range.

That said, in the 21-year-old Dilshan Madushanka and the 28-year-old Pramod Madushan, Sri Lanka have two stirring, if relatively green, seamers ready to step in if needed. The pair, both of whom had been uncapped prior to the Asia Cup, proved impressive deputies over the course of the tournament.

However, with both Madushanka and Madushan happier pitching it up and looking for swing, the likes of Chameera and Kumara offer the variety needed to succeed on Australian tracks; in Sri Lanka’s tour of Australia earlier this year, the latter pair found a lot of joy in hitting the deck hard.

While their injury concerns remain, they will nevertheless be a part of the squad that heads off to a training camp in Pallekele, Kandy, on September 25, to give them every chance to prove their fitness ahead of the World Cup.

Aside from the uncertainty in the fast-bowling ranks, the rest of the squad has virtually picked itself – not something commonly said about Sri Lankan teams in recent times.

Dasun Shanaka, who will lead the side, will have at his disposal a fairly settled batting unit. Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis look to have locked down their places at the top of the order following a string of important stands in the Asia Cup, while the middle and lower order has the firepower of Shanaka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Wanindu Hasaranga and Chamika Karunaratne.The only question marks remain in the crucial No. 3 and No. 4 spots, where the trio of Charith Asalanka, Danushka Gunathilaka and Dhananjaya de Silva will be vying for two places.

Asalanka had a poor Asia Cup by his standards, and found himself out of the side that beat Pakistan in the final. He was replaced by de Silva, who had been on the fringes for most of the tournament, but impressed with both bat and ball in the two games he came in for.While admittedly a small sample size, de Silva’s ability to bowl his flat offbreaks economically in the middle overs, while offering considerable heft with the bat, provides a versatility that neither Asalanka nor Gunathilaka provide. Gunathilaka, nominally an opener, however does offer the potential for explosiveness in the middle order – even if he didn’t showcase that as much as he would have liked at the Asia Cup.

On the spin-bowling front, Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana form an enviable pairing, while in Jeffrey Vandersay there’s an able deputy waiting in the wings.Sri Lanka will start their T20 World Cup campaign on October 16 against Namibia.


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