After a saga of losses in the recently concluded tour of England, Team Sri Lanka will now take on the second-string Indian team in a 3-match ODIs and T20Is series, which was set to commence from the 13th of July but now has been postponed to 17th owing to the increase in Covid cases in the Island nation.
The Lankan board recently announced a 25-member squad for the upcoming high octane series and despite the ongoing political and contract-related unrest, the board has managed to put together a decent line-up.
However, the series will be played without the key players which include the likes of Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, and Danushka Gunathilaka, who have all been handed a year ban after they breached the bio-bubble during the England tour.
In addition, their former skipper Angelo Mathews is also set to miss the series owing to personal reasons. The latest addition to the list being Bhanuka Rajapaksha, who was handed a year ban for slamming the Lankan board in a press meet.
The board's decision to replace Kusal Perera as the skipper means that the explosive all-rounder Dasun Shanaka will be leading the side once again after a gap of close to two years, making him the 6th Sri Lankan skipper in the last 4 years.
The 25-member Sri Lankan squad:
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Dhananjaya de Silva (Vice-Captain), Kusal Janith Perera, Avishka Fernando, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Ramesh Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Dhananjaya Lakshan, Ishan Jayaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Isuru Udana, Asitha Fernando, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Akila Dananjaya, Praveen Jayawickrama, Ashen Bandara, Lahiru Udara, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha and Bhanuka Rajapaksa
With many of the senior and key players missing out from the squad, Cricwizz today takes a look at the 5 players to look out for in the upcoming series.
1) Dasun Shanaka (Captain)
The 29-year old all-rounder has been in tremendous touch over the last few months and he rightly deserved to be awarded the captaincy in the absence of the seniors. The Right-handed had an incredible series in England when the entire squad of Sri Lanka barring few players struggled to get going. Will the added responsibility of leading the side pile the pressure on the Lankan? Or will he utilize this opportunity to cement his place as the leader?
Shanaka has represented the Lankan side on 28 occasions in the 50-over format, managing to accumulate 611 runs and pick up 10 wickets. His T20I records too complement well his short yet commanding career.
2) Wanindu Hasaranga
One of the few players in the current Sri Lankan squad who is very showcasing great consistency and vigor to perform on the big stage. The 23-year old all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga is someone who could be a great asset to the Nation in the coming days. The leggie has been doing a wonderful job in all the departments and his leg breakers could be a turning point in Sri Lanka's success against the Men in blue.
Hasaranga has also managed to bail the team out on several occasions with the bat and he will be hoping he can convert his starts to huge ones as this series could be a huge leap in his career.
The Right-hander has played 24 ODIs for Sri Lanka, scoring 518 runs and picking up 22 wickets at a brilliant economy of 5.
3) Dhananjaya de Silva (Vice-captain)
An impressive start to his career and since then has managed to hold his place in the Sri Lankan side. The 29- year old is a very technically sound batsman, who impressed everyone with his excellent footwork. However, Silva has a tendency to eat up balls but given his caliber, he will is sure to improvise on the same.
The newly appointed vice-captain apart from his batting skills has also been known for breaking crucial partnerships, with 1064 runs and 25 wickets from the 50 matches ODIs played so far, the Right-hander is definitely a player to look out for.
4) Kusal Perera
The most experienced player in the squad by far, there is no doubt that Kusal Perera will hold a key role in this important series. However, Perera would be feeling a bit unhappy after being demoted from the captaincy role. We also learn from few sources that it was due to Perera's decision to make the team hold on to the contract rift that the board was forced to take up this decision.
Irrespective of the internal politics, the former skipper is vastly experienced and he will know the responsibility he holds in guiding the youngsters throughout this series.
The 30-year-old has played 107 ODIs for his country where he managed to score just over 3000 runs at an average of 31.34 and a brilliant strike rate of 92.31. Can he share his wisdom and experience with the youngsters in deploying one of the biggest upsets in the sport?
5) Dushmanatha Chameera
A pace sensation and undoubtedly the best fast bowler in the current pace attack, Chameera would be the vital resource in leading the pace attack against India. The 29- year old had a stunning series in England where he managed to pick up crucial wickets of the English batsmen and also ended the ODI series as the highest wicket-taker, claiming 6 wickets at an economy of 6.26.
The Right-hander has represented his country on 31 occasions and managed to pick up 33 wickets at an economy of 5.17. Can Chameera continue his great form in his backyard?
It is exciting news that despite the ongoing unrest between the players and the board, the series has been moving forward as planned. The series could serve as a huge turning point in the future endeavors of the 1996 World cup winners.
India on the other hand will be looking forward to the youngsters that will be led by experienced southpaw Shikhar Dhawan. The series also stand crucial for the Indian players as this could play an important role in the selections for the upcoming T20 World cup.
Do you think Sri Lanka can make a valiant effort against the second-string Indian team? Or will the Indian youngsters claim authority?
Do let us know your thoughts in the comments and also follow Cricwizz for exciting insights into the game of cricket.
Cover Credits: CricketSriLankaOfficial