By Harsha Amarasinghe
Kandy scrum-half Roshan Weeraratne who missed the Malaysian friendly matches, has returned to Sri Lanka fifteen-a-side squad ahead of their Asia Championship campaign in Chinese Taipei later this month.
Weeraratne was unavailable to the two games played in Malaysia due to personal reasons, but has since trained with the national team and the selectors have opted for his experience leaving out Rahul de Silva who has been named as one of the standbys along with Sandesh Jayawickrama.
The national selectors have traditionally turned their back on the players from the forces, especially in the last decade or so. However, the national selection committee has shown their faith on wing three quarter Sudaraka Dikkumbura and fly-half Ashan Bandara who performed exceptionally in the last couple of club seasons.
In fact Dikkumbura was able to bag a hat-trick against Sri Lanka’s first friendly match in Malaysia, and would compete for the place in the starting XV with Reeza Raffaideen and Kavindu Perera.
Perera who recently sealed a move to his home-town club Kandy SC, is also one of the vice captains of the team along with prop forward Jason Melder as number eight Omalka Gunarathne has retained the captaincy.
With Sathya Ranatunga being surpassingly axed, Jason Melder looks a certain starter while Kasun de Silva, Yakoob Ali and Charles Praveen would battle for a spot in the front row.
Samuel Maduwantha appears to be the first choice at fly-half with competition from Bandara while Thilina Wijesinghe should start at full-back.
The former St. Anthony’s captain Dinuk Amarasinghe who took his game to a whole new level during the last club season is a clear starter at centre, but the squad does not include another centre who has played in that position during the club tournament which means there is a possibility of dragging Kavindu Perera, Raffaideen or Buddhima Piyarathne into centre although they are tailor made wing three quarters.
Squad: Omalka Gunarathne (C), Jason Melde (V/C), Kavindu Perera (V/C), Thilina Bandara, Sajith Saranga, Prabath Kumara, Umesh Madushan, Nivanka Prasad Roshan Weerarathne,Mithun Hapugoda, Samuel Maduwantha, Theekshana Dasanayaka, Reeza Raffaideen, Sachith Silva , Dinuk Amarasinghe, Buddima Priyaratne , Prasad Madusanka ,Sudaraka Dikkumbura, Lasindu Ishan, Thilina Wijesinghe, Gihan Perera, Kasun De Silva , Uchitha Jayasooriya, Yakoob Ali, Charles Praveen, Ashan Bandara