Several familiar faces, as well as a couple of new ones – most notably the highly-rated Sri Lanka Under-19 captain Dunith Wellalage – have been included in Sri Lanka s 21-man squad for the upcoming ODI series against Australia. Dasun Shanaka will lead the side.
Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Niroshan Dickwella and Wanindu Hasaranga all return, while there are also recalls for allrounder Lahiru Madushanka and fast bowler Asitha Fernando. Alongside Wellalage, 28-year-old right-arm seamer Pramod Madushan is in line for a debut.
Making way are fast-bowling trio Nuwan Pradeep, Chamika Gunasekara and Shiran Fernando, wicketkeeper-batter Minod Bhanuka and spin-bowling allrounder Kamindu Mendis. Aside from the veteran Pradeep, the exclusion of the other four were largely expected as they had been included as part of a very inexperienced side that toured Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka s last ODI series in January.
The return of Gunathilaka, de Silva, Rajapaksa and Dickwella bolster a batting unit that already includes Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Dinesh Chandimal and Shanaka. The squad is also not short of genuine all-rounders, with Hasaranga and Madushanka adding to the likes of Chamika Karunaratne and Ramesh Mendis.
Then there is Wellalage. The general public might not have heard much of the 19-year-old prior to this year, but his performances at the recently concluded Under-19 World Cup, where he put in a string of match-winning performances with both bat and ball, certainly made many sit up and take notice.
The tournament saw the spin-bowling allrounder end as its leading wicket-taker with 17 scalps across six games, while with the bat he racked up 264 runs at an average of 44. More impressive though was his temperament, especially when batting deep with the lower order to take his side through to victory.
Regular game time in a series against Australia might be a lot to expect of a player with just 17 first-class and List A matches behind him, but it wouldn t be surprising if the Sri Lanka think tank opts to throw him in sooner rather than later.
A debut for Sri Lanka s other potential debutant, Madushan, however might be less likely with Dushmantha Chameera, Nuwan Thushara and Fernando – included on the back of an impressive Test series against Bangladesh – ahead of him in the seam-bowling pecking order.
The spin-bowling contingent meanwhile is also well stocked, with the first choice pair of Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana supplemented up by the resurgent wrist spin of Jeffrey Vandersay and the left-arm orthodox of Praveen Jayawickrama.
The five-match series gets underway on June 14 in Pallekele.
Squad: Dasun Shanaka (capt), Pathum Nissanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Niroshan Dickwella, Wanindu Hasaranga, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Asitha Fernando, Nuwan Thushara, Ramesh Mendis, Maheesh Theekshana, Praveen Jayawickrama, Jeffrey Vandersay, Lahiru Madushanka, Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan.