Sri Lanka’s Durban hero Kusal Janith Perera was left out of the Sri Lanka Test Squad that will leave for Zimbabwe on Thursday while former Captain Suranga Lakmal returned having missed the tour of Pakistan last month.
Perera, who fashioned an unlikely win against South Africa in Durban with an innings that has been debated as possibly the best in Test history, has since seen a dip in form, culminating in him being dropped for the two Tests against Pakistan.
However, Chief Selector Ashantha de Mel said Perera’s omission from this squad was not a case of him being ‘dropped’ but rather for him, among other reasons, to focus on the ODI series against the West Indies.
“He wasn’t exactly dropped. For one, we reduced the squad from 16 (that travelled to Pakistan) to 15 and the coach also felt it is better to have one extra batsman in the squad instead of two,” de Mel said, also indicating that Sri Lanka could persist with the same XI that lost the second Test to Pakistan in Karachi last month.
“We are looking at playing the same team that featured in the second Test at Karachi, so he would probably not have played in the first Test (in Zimbabwe), and then it’s a question of if we really want to make a change for the second Test.”
“Also with (Niroshan) Dickwella being the keeper, we felt that it was a waste of time just taking Kusal to Zimbabwe for him not to play. So, we decided it would better for him to train with the white-ball players in preparation for the home series against the West Indies,” de Mel added.
“He was happy with the decision and agreed that that was the best decision for him.”
Lakmal missed the tour of Pakistan after suffering from a bout of dengue fever and his return means that Asitha Fernando, who replaced him for that tour, has been left out. (SMD)
Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal