Offspinner Ashian Daniel
has ridden his excellent List A form into the Sri Lanka men’s T20I squad for India, but there continues to be no room for middle-order batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa
, who has again been omitted due to lagging fitness standards.
Daniel is the only new addition to the squad that has just wrapped up a T20I series in Australia, losing 4-1. Three players picked up injuries during that series, however, and will play no part in the India series. Batter Avishka Fernando
could be out for several months after sustaining a knee injury that is likely to require surgery; allrounder Ramesh Mendis
fractured his thumb while batting in the nets; and round-arm seamer Nuwan Thushara
picked up a side strain in the middle of a spell. Kusal Perera
, who had not gone to Australia either, continues to be unavailable through injury.
Rajapaksa’s exclusion, though, continues to be controversial, particularly in light of Sri Lanka’s four losses in Australia. Although Rajapaksa’s weight and fitness had long been concerns, his performances in the middle order had largely been good, even if his fielding was sometimes poor. In Australia, it had been Sri Lanka’s batters – and the middle order in particular – that had been their major weakness.
In January, Rajapaksa, 30, had retired
from international cricket, then reversed his decision
after supposedly being convinced to stay by Sri Lanka’s sports minister. His continued exclusion, though, suggests Sri Lanka’s selectors are intent on enforcing the strict fitness standards introduced over the past two years.
Sri Lanka play three T20Is against India, the first of which is set to take place in Lucknow on Thursday.
Sri Lanka squad: Dasun Shanaka (capt), Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kamil Mishara, Janith Liyanage, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrama, Ashian Daniel
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf