SL World Cup squad – Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga miss out, Dasun Shanaka to lead Sri Lanka
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SL World Cup squad – Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga miss out, Dasun Shanaka to lead Sri Lanka

It’s official – Sri Lanka will be without Dushmantha Chameera and Wanindu Hasaranga at the ODI World Cup. Dasun Shanaka, whose role as captain had been under much speculation over the past few weeks, will lead the side in India through October and November.

The rest of the 15-member squad has formed up as expected, with the only changes from the side that reached the final of the Asia Cup being the inclusion of Dilshan Madushanka and Lahiru Kumara.

Making way are quick bowlers Pramod Madushan and Binura Fernando. Chamika Karunaratne has been named as a travelling reserve.

Of those who have missed out, Chameera’s absence will likely be felt the most.

Chameera, the 31-year-old quick, last played for Sri Lanka in June against Afghanistan and in the warm-ups of the World Cup qualifier. After that, he was initially out with a torn pectoral muscle, which he suffered ahead of the World Cup qualifier in Zimbabwe. And, after recovering from that, he injured himself again in the Lanka Premier League in August. He had also missed the T20 World Cup in Australia last year with an ankle injury.

There had been some degree of optimism that he would be fit for at least a part of this World Cup, but despite having started bowling in the nets, he has not been able to do so consistently without discomfort.

As for Hasaranga, the SLC had been less optimistic. But there had been murmurs that he might have been included with the hope that he would be fit to play during the latter stages of the tournament – such is the importance of his all-round talents to team balance.

“Wanindu Hasaranga has not been included in the 15-member squad as the player is still in the process of recovering from an injury,” an SLC statement said. “His recovery will be monitored, and if he is declared fit to play, he will be considered as a replacement in the event of an injury to a squad member during the tournament.”

Injury concerns are a theme right through Sri Lanka’s bowling unit at present, with the inclusion of no less than three frontline bowlers who are just returning from injury. Spinner Maheesh Theekshana is returning from a hamstring injury he suffered at the Asia Cup, while Madushanka is just back from a torn oblique muscle. Kumara, meanwhile, missed the entire Asia Cup with a side strain. He also has a worrying history of being ruled out mid-game with the same recurring injury.

This means there might be game time not only for the other quicks in the squad – Matheesha Pathirana and Kasun Rajitha – but also the travelling reserve, seam-bowling allrounder Karunaratne.

Fortunately for Sri Lanka, their batters are in fairly rude health by comparison, though their form and consistency are causes for concern, especially following their dismal performance in the Asia Cup final, where India shot them out for 50.

It’s likely that Kusal Perera will keep Dimuth Karunaratne out of the starting XI, and open alongside Pathum Nissanka. Perera is one of three wicketkeeping options in the squad alongside Sadeera Samarawickrama and Kusal Mendis – who kept for the entirety of the Asia Cup – with all three expected to start.

Sri Lanka’s middle order, too, picks itself with Samarawickrama coming in at four, followed by Charith Asalanka and Dhananjaya de Silva at five and six respectively.

This leaves Shanaka to occupy the No. 7 position. Head coach Chris Silverwood had given Shanaka unequivocal backing in the immediate aftermath of the Asia Cup final, in the hope being that one good innings would be enough to get him out of his rut.

Sri Lanka’s selectors, too, opted to take a more holistic view of Shanaka’s performance as captain. A special meeting held after the Asia Cup involving the top brass of SLC as well as Silverwood, consultant coach Mahela Jayawardene, team manager Mahinda Halangoda, and members of the selection committee including chief selector Pramodya Wickramasinghe, gave the present make-up of the team their vote of confidence.

“The selectors, during the meeting, explained the intended composition of the World Cup squad and also possible contingency plans in place for replacements if such a measure is needed,” he board had said in a media statement at the time. “During the meeting, all in attendance were in agreement that the national team is going in the right direction towards making further progress.”

Sri Lanka will begin their World Cup with warm-up games against Bangladesh and Afghanistan on September 29 and October 3 in Guwahati, before their first official match of the tournament against South Africa on October 7 in Delhi.

Sri Lanka ODI World Cup squad: Dasun Shanaka (capt), Kusal Mendis (vice capt), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera (wk), Dimuth Karunaratne, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Sadeera Samarawickrama (wk), Dushan Hemantha, Maheesh Theekshana, Dunith Wellalage, Kasun Rajitha, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara
Travelling reserve: Chamika Karunaratne

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