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Sri Lanka’s ASIA CUP Squad… with Some Surprises

September 3, 2018

Champika Fernando in Sunday Times, 2 September 2018, where the title is “Malinga, Dilruwan recalled for Asia Cup”

Veteran fast bowler Lasith Malinga and off-spinner Dilruwan Perera have been included in the 16-man squad for the Asia Cup in Dubai this month. The 35-year-old Malinga, who retired from Test cricket in 2010, has not played international cricket since last September 2017 when Sri Lanka suffered a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of India at home.

His inclusion in the Asia Cup squad, however, comes as a surprise as he has done too little to earn a recall to the 50-over format, even though he has played T20 cricket regularly. He has averaged a staggering 62.30 on his return to the side in 2017 after a long-injury lay-off.

He did, however, show a glimpse of his old self when he bowled a brilliant super-over against Team Dambulla, conceding just five runs in a group stage match of the current domestic T20 league. Since then, he has been a pale shadow of himself conceding as many as 207 runs in six matches and claiming just three wickets. Last year, Malinga was Sri Lanka’s best T20 wicket-taker, capturing 12 scalps in six matches at 16.50, including a best of three for 34. More recently, he became the third highest wicket-taker in the Global T20 tournament played in Canada where he claimed 13 scalps at an economy of 6.42 for Montreal Tigers.

Malinga has taken 301 ODI wickets giving away 8,705 runs since his ODI debut in July 2004. In the shortest form of the game, he has taken 90 wickets conceding 1,780 runs.

On the other hand, the veteran spinner has been knocking at the door for a while on the strength of his consistent performance with the Test team and also during the T20 league. He is the joint highest wicket-taker in Test cricket for Sri Lanka with 24 wickets. Dilruwan, who is known for his ability to contain runs bowling at a tight line and length, conceded only 44 runs in two innings during the T20 league, picking three wickets. The 36-year-old last played for Sri Lanka against Bangladesh in March 2017 and was largely considered as a longer-format player. Dilruwan who made his debut in 2007 against England in Colombo has played just 12 ODI matches claiming 13 wickets at 29.53.

The selectors have also recalled seamer Dushmantha Chameera and left-arm spinner Amila Aponso into the 16-man squad but axed wicket-keeper bat Niroshan Dickwella who has been kept as standby. Danushka Gunathilaka who missed the South African series following a six match suspension, has returned to the side. The team captained by Angelo Mathews includes four-man seam attack in Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Dushmantha Chameera and Malinga and three spinners in Akila, Dilruwan and Aponso. Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka are the two bowling all-rounders in the side.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka will hit the training facility at the R Premadasa Stadium on Monday as they begin their Pre-Asia Cup preparations.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka will hit the training facility at the R Premadasa Stadium on Monday as they begin their Pre-Asia Cup preparations.

According to team sources, the eight-day preparations concludes on September 10th, a day before Sri Lanka team expected to travel to UAE for the biannual tournament.

Sri Lanka will kick off their campaign against Bangladesh on September 15–the opening day of the tournament before heading to Abu Dhabi for their second group match against Afghanistan on September 17. The tournament will have Super Four round. The final will end on September 28.

Sri Lanka squad

Angelo Mathews (Capt), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga

Standbys: Shehan Madushanka, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan Shehan Jayasuriya, Niroshan Dickwella

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