Colombo: Sri Lanka have trimmed their 20-man squad to face Bangladesh named last month to 16 for the first Test later this week, with Thilan Samaraweera still on the sidelines and Mahela Jayawardene out injured. The squad includes two uncapped players in batsman Kithruwan Vithanage and offspinner Tharindu Kaushal, and sees the return of Kumar Sangakkara following a finger injury sustained in Australia in late 2012.
Samaraweera was dropped after tallying just 79 runs in three Tests against Australia, as were wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene and opener Tharanga Paranavitana. Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Pradeep and the uncapped batsman Ashen Silva and seamer Dushmantha Chameera were also missing from the 20 named in February. Ajantha Mendis, who has not played a Test since May 2011, will be hopeful of adding to his 16 caps.
The squad is a full-strength one and comes on the day a pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 23 centrally contracted players ended. Earlier on Monday, the cricketers signed new contracts and made themselves available for the two-Test series against Bangladesh starting on Friday. The only player who did not, Jayawardene, is injured and out of the country.
Vithanage's unbeaten 168 off 165 balls for a Sri Lanka Development Emerging XI against the touring Bangladeshis in an ongoing tour match has earned him instant elevation to the national team. The 22-year-old, a former Under-19 player who represents Tamil Union Cricket and Athletic Club in domestic cricket, has a first-class batting average of 43.82 in 22 matches. He is coming off a good season in the Premier League Tournament in which he averaged 75.25 in four matches.
Kaushal, 19, has been named in Sri Lanka's squad for the second time after the New Zealand series last year. He has played five first-class games in which he has a staggering 41 wickets at an average of 14.02.
Also named in the squad are opener Dimuth Karunaratne who debuted in 2012; legspinning allrounder Jeewan Mendis who has yet to make his Test debut; and wicketkeeper Kushal Janith Perera, just four ODIs old. Perera could debut behind the stumps if the management feels Dinesh Chandimal needs to focus on his batting.
This will be the first series in charge for Angelo Mathews, who was named Test captain in February. The first Test is in Galle from March 8-12 followed by the second in Colombo starting March 16.
1st Test squad: Angelo Mathews (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Lahiru Thirimanne, Shaminda Eranga, Kushal Perera (wk), Jeewan Mendis, Kithruwan Vithanage, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekera, Chamara Welegedera, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath, Tharindu Kaushal