The first T20 squad of Chandika Hathurusingha’s tenure features a preponderance of youth. Seam bowlers Asitha Fernando and Shehan Madushanka (20 and 22 respectively), inexperienced spinners Jeffrey Vandersay and Amila Aponso, and seam-bowling allrounder Dasun Shanaka, all feature for the two-match series.
One old hand did return, however. Three years after he played his last international, legspinning allrounder Jeevan Mendis, 35, made his way back into a Sri Lanka squad. Though his recall was unexpected, he has nevertheless been in good bowling form for Tamil Union Cricket Club in the ongoing Premier League first-class tournament.
In the continued absence of Angelo Mathews, the team will be led by Dinesh Chandimal, who himself has not played a T20 in over a year. Thisara Perera was in the squad, but was overlooked for the captaincy.
Kusal Perera and Asela Gunaratne returned to T20 internationals after their long injury-related absences, and Akila Dananjaya retained his place as Sri Lanka’s main limited-overs spinner. Upul Tharanga and Danushka Gunathilaka were also in the squad, which means that with Kusal and Niroshan Dickwella around, there will be some competition for the opening positions.
The area in which Sri Lanka appear lightest on experience is the seam-bowling department. Neither Asitha nor Madushanka has played a T20 international. In fact, with Suranga Lakmal and Dushmantha Chameera both also omitted, left-armer Isuru Udana – who has played 13 T20 internationals – is the senior specialist quick. Allrounders Thisara and Shanaka are the other seam-bowling options.
The first T20 will be played in Mirpur on February 15, before the action moves to Sylhet for the second game. This brief series will serve as a precursor for the Nidahas Trophy tri-series, which will feature these two teams and India. That tournament begins March 8.
T20 squad: Dinesh Chandimal (captain), Upul Tharanga, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Asela Gunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Isuru Udana, Shehan Madushanka, Jeffrey Vandersay, Akila Dananjaya, Amila Aponso, Jeevan Mendis, Asitha Fernando
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando
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