Sri Lanka Test squad for Pakistan tour analysis - Akila's ban, Dhananjaya's nonchalance and more
After sending a second-string squad for the limited-overs series, the SLC could not afford to repeat it with 120 World Test Championship points at stake, and hence, the Pakistani crowd will get to see some hard-fought cricket this time.
"This tour is a message for the whole world, and especially a message for future Sri Lankans. This has gone very smoothly. Us playing here will encourage so many other countries to also to be here," Sri Lanka's interim coach Rumesh Ratnayake said after the completion of their recent limited-overs tour.
A taste of Pakistan's hospitality and satisfaction with the security situation has influenced Sri Lanka to reverse their decision of playing Test cricket in the cricket-crazy country.
Shortly after officially giving a green signal for the Test series, Sri Lanka have announced their Test squad for the Pakistan tour.
A full-strength squad
The biggest point of concern for Pakistan after Sri Lanka agreed to send their team to the nation would have been the strength of their squad. Although Sri Lanka visiting Pakistan for 3 ODIs and 3 T20Is was a step in the right direction, it was somewhat dampened by the fact that 10 of Sri Lanka's frontline players did not agree to tour.
However, with this Test series being a part of the Test Championship, it would have been a huge call by Sri Lanka to not send their proper Test side and risk the crucial 120 points up for grabs.
Opening combination clicking
Sri Lanka are coming off a competitive Test series against New Zealand at home, where they started off in grand fashion by beating the Black Caps by 6 wickets in the first match. The Kiwis returned the favour with an innings victory in the the second Test.
What was satisfying for Sri Lanka though is that their batting line-up, and more so the opening combination, clicked. Dimuth Karunaratne scored 39 and 122 in the two innings of the first Test. Lahiru Thirimanne's numbers were not that outstanding with 10 and 64 in the two innings, but he gave the skipper great support and was, in many ways, responsible for chasing down the total with relative ease.
Karunaratne also scored a 65 in the first innings of the second Test in seriously swinging and seeming conditions. The conditions in Pakistan, which will not be conducive for the bowlers as much, will only make run scoring easier for him.
A class all-rounder in Dhananjaya De Silva
In his young Test career, Dhananjaya De Silva has already become a star, at least at the national level. More than his batting or bowling, what has impressed the fans is the utter nonchalance with which he goes about his business, be it with the bat or ball or in the field.
De Silva contributed with 129 runs in the two Test matches against New Zealand at an average of 43, ending as Sri Lanka's second-highest run-scorer. He also chipped in with three wickets in the series and did a good job of providing the team with an additional bowling option.
Kasun Rajitha in for Akila Dananjaya
Akila Dananjaya picked up 6 wickets in the last Test he played. This was after the spinner's return post his time away from the game due to his illegal bowling action. Dananjaya had worked hard on his action and was confident of having got it right.
But, as per ICC norms, after he got reported for his action again for the second time within a two-year period, he was banned for one year from all forms of international cricket.
Dananjaya would certainly have been handy with his off breaks, leg breaks and all the mystery deliveries he bowls, especially in the Pakistani conditions, where wickets will be difficult to come by. Sri Lanka would now have to work with spinners Lasith Embuldeniya, Lakshan Sandakan, Dhananjaya De Silva and Dilruwan Perera.
Right-arm fast-medium bowler, Kasun Rajitha, who has 23 wickets from 6 Test matches at an average of close to 30, has been added to the squad in Dananjaya's place.
Test squad - Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan
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