Sri Lanka Cricket (SC) named their 16-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup tournament which is scheduled to be played in UAE. Veteran bowler Lasith Malinga have been recalled into the side. This inclusion has come as a surprise to many as the bowler didn’t feature in Sri Lanka’s provincial one-day tournament this year, however, he was part of domestic T20 cricket in Sri Lanka.
Lasith Malinga last played an international game for Sri Lanka in September 2017. Injuries followed by fitness problems and a drop in form with the ball, altogether, had forced selectors to drop him from the team. Not to mention his rivalry with the Sri Lankan sports minister last year!
Lasith Malinga had featured in four Asia Cup tournaments so far for Sri Lanka – in 2004, 2010, 2012 & 2014. In total, he picked up 24 wickets in the 12 games played in this tournament. Overall, Malinga has featured in 204 ODIs for Sri Lanka from the year 2004 to 2017 and bagged 301 wickets in this format.
Dinesh Chandimal and Danushka Gunathilaka who were suspended for six matches during South Africa tour of Sri Lanka have also made a return to this squad. Chandimal was banned for two Tests and 4 ODIs against South Africa while Danushka Gunathilaka was banned for five ODIs and a T20I against the same opposition due to various player conduct code violations!
The Asia Cup tournament will be played in UAE which is returning to its traditional ODI format this year. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are placed in the Group A while India, Pakistan and the winner of ‘Asia Cup Qualifiers 2018’ are placed in Group B. Sri Lanka will feature in the tournament opener alongside Bangladesh on September 15 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai.
Sri Lanka have put some of their players on the standby list. Players like Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Madushanka, Nuwan Pradeep, Shehan Jayasuriya and Lakshan Sadakan form this list. If Niroshan Dickwella did not make it to the team before the start of this tournament, either Kusal Mendis or the experienced Dinesh Chandimal is expected take gloves behind the stumps.
Sri Lanka squad for Asia Cup: Angelo Mathews (c), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga
** Photo credits to Hindustan Times