At 38, Rangana Herath becomes country’s oldest cricketer to captain the national side after regular skipper Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the Zimbabwe test series with a calf tear.
With vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal not considered for the tour as he was recovering from a thumb injury he suffered during a recent domestic cricket match, the selectors had no option but to invite the spin wizard to take over reigns for the two-match series starting on October 29.
“It’s a great privilege and honour to lead my country but it has come at the cost of our best batsman in the side –Angelo Mathews. But I am ready to take up the challenge and lead the side,” the aging spinner said adding that he never expected to lead side. “Not in my wildest dream,” he added.
Herath is country’s top spinner since Muttiah Muralidaran’s retirement and has led Sri Lanka to many victories including the most recent 3-0 drubbing of Australia in the home Test series. He has represented Sri Lanka in 73 test matches and picked up 332 wickets which includes 26 five wickets hauls and six ten wickets hauls.
Sri Lanka are without their most senior batsmen in the side – Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal but Herath believes the presence of in-form Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya De Silva will make it a formidable batting unit. Mathews who was expected to lead the 15-man squad had suffered a calf tear during practice and will be out of action for at least three weeks.
“His calf tear has resurfaced but it’s not a very serious condition. We believe it’s best to rest at least for two to three weeks for it to heal,” said Prof. Arjuna de Silva, a member of SLC’s medical panel.
Mathews missed the last leg of the limited over series against Australia with a calf injury and has complained of a stiff calf during the last few days and on examination doctors have found a calf tear.
Upul Tharanga is likely to replace Mathews in the side. Sri Lanka will play two test matches against Zimbabwe and will also be apart of a limited over tri-series also involving West Indies.
The team will leave early tomorrow to Zimbabwe. (Champika Fernando)