Batter Charith Asalanka will not play Test cricket until at least the T20 World Cup in Australia as he has been asked to focus on the limited format ahead of the world showpiece in October-November.
Asalanka was pushed into the longer format after his resounding success with the bat in limited-overs cricket, but his short three-game career brought him as few as 88 runs in six innings. This caused the selectors to rest it from the longer format for the time being. He is also recovering from a knee injury.
His performances in the limited formats were impressive, although early in his career he averaged above 42 and 27 in ODI and T20 cricket. It means Roshen Silva, who last appeared in a Test match for Sri Lanka in January 2019, has been included in a preliminary 23-man squad named for the upcoming two-match Test round in Bangladesh.
The 33-year-old has played 12 Tests for Sri Lanka since his debut in 2017 against India and is averaging 35.10, scoring a century and five half tons in his 23-inning career.
Another shock was the exclusion of Test specialist Lahiru Thirimanne from the squad for the series in Bangladesh. Sources said that although he was selected initially, the selectors decided to withdraw him after he traveled abroad to be with his family without prior permission. He was invited to play national cricket in order to be recalled to the national team. Thirimanne is a 44 Test veteran, but his recent form is cause for concern. He has scored 25 runs in his last four innings against India.
Uncapped Kamil Mishara was brought in in place of Thirimanne. Mishara, 20, is a top hitter who has worn the Sri Lankan colors in the T20 format but his chances of making the final 18 remain in doubt. He has also been included in the emerging England squad and is set to fly to the UK on May 1 with them. The selectors also named top hitter Oshada Fernando after dropping him from the Indian series in March.
Meanwhile, off-spinner Lakshitha Rasanjana Manasinghe and leg-spinner Suminda Lakshan have been drafted into the initial squad which includes three frontline spinners in Praveen Jayawickrema, Lasith Embuldeniya, Jeffery Vandersay. They are also part of the emerging team. With Suranga Lakmal retired and Dushmantha Chameera resting from a longer format until the World Cup, Sri Lanka’s paced attack looks weak. Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Shiran Fernando and Mohamed Shiraz have been included in the squad.
The national team is expected to resume training on Wednesday at the R Premadasa stadium under new head coach Chris Silverwood. The Englishman, who was confirmed a few days ago as Sri Lanka’s head coach, is expected to arrive here tomorrow to take up his duties. He will lead a 10-day residential training camp before taking the team to Bangladesh on May 8, his first international series with the Lankans.
Sri Lanka will resume training without skipper Dimuth Karunaratne. He will leave this week for England to join the county of Yorkshire. He was supposed to leave on April 10 but there was a visa delay. If cleared on Monday, he will leave that evening or the following morning for Yorkshire’s game against Northamptonshire from April 21. Karunaratne will take part in three games this season and join the Bangladesh national team ahead of the opening test on May 15.
The first test will be played in Chattogram while the second test is expected to start on May 23 in Dhaka.
23-member preliminary test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Kamil Mishara, Pathum Nissanka, Oshada Fernando, Aneglo Mathews, Kusal Mendis (wk), Dananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Dilshan Madushanka, Shiran Fernando, Mohamed Shiraz, Praveen Jayawickrema, Lasith Embuldeniya, Jeffery Vandersay, Lakshitha Rasanjana Manasinghe, Suminda Lakshan
Emerging Team Tour of England – 32-member Preliminary Team: Kamil Mishara (wk), Lasith Croospulle, Nishan Madushka, Johanne de Zilva, Kamindu Mendis, Nipun Dananjaya, Nuwanidu Fernando, Avishka Perera, M. de Silva, Ashen Bandara, Avishka Tharindu, Dinuka Dilshan, Dunith Wellalage, Dananjaya Lakshan, Kavishka Anjula , Santhush Gunathilake, Movin Subasinghe, Kalana Perera, Amshi de Silva, Nipun Malinga, Udith Madushan, Dilshan Madushanka, Yasiru Rodrigo, Kavindu Dilahara, Nipun Ransika, Kavindu Pathirathne, Dilum Sudeera, Ashian Daniel, Lakshitha Rasanjana Manasinghe, Kaumal Nanayakkara, Suminda Lakshan , T. Vithushan