Sri Lanka sack ODI skipper Karunaratne

Drops Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal, names Kusal Perera new ODI captain

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COLOMBO – Sri Lanka on Wednesday (12)  sacked one-day captain Dimuth Karunaratne and dropped him and a host of other big names from the squad heading for Bangladesh this week.

Two other former skippers — Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal — were also dropped along with Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep.

Kusal Perera has been named as the new captain, with Kusal Mendis as his deputy.

Sri Lanka Cricket did not say why the players had been dropped.

In naming a young squad, Sri Lanka’s new selection committee – headed by Pramodya Wickramasinghe – and coach Mickey Arthur have signalled they are seeking to aggressively develop a fresh set of limited-overs players with a view to the 2023 World Cup. Across the 18 players named, only 33-year-old Isuru Udana is older than 31, and just three players are above 30.

While the ousting of Karunaratne is something of a surprise – the team had performed better under him than they had in the 18 months leading up to his captaincy – it is the dropping of Mathews that will be most controversial. Mathews’ most recent ODI outings have largely been good. He was the Player of the Match in the second-to-last match he had played – against West Indies in March last year – for his four wickets. Before that, he had also been one of Sri Lanka’s best batters at the 2019 World Cup, and had averaged 52.50 with the bat in 2018, and 63.66 in 2017. Mathews’ fielding and fitness standards had appeared to have improved substantially by the start of 2020 as well.

Karunaratne, meanwhile, had not been quite as good with the bat – averaging 36.06 since he took over, and striking at just 76.52. But under his captaincy, Sri Lanka had won ten and lost seven matches.

Perera has never led Sri Lanka in any format, but his ODI batting had achieved some level of consistency in 2019, when he averaged 43.06 with a strike rate of almost 100. He is set to become Sri Lanka’s ninth ODI captain in the last five years – Chandimal, Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne, and Chamara Kapugedara having held the post, in addition to Karunaratne.

The return of Mendis, particularly to a position of leadership, is also significant. He has been out of all of Sri Lanka’s squads since completing a sequence of four consecutive ducks through the course of Test series against South Africa and England. But he had been good in the only ODIs he had played in 2020, hitting 20, 119 and 55 at home against West Indies.

From among the younger players in Sri Lanka’s talent pool, the selectors had wanted Avishka Fernando in the squad, but he failed a fitness test which, according to the strict selection policy put in place by Arthur, ruled him out of contention. Fernando had also missed the tour of West Indies in February for the same reason. Pathum Nissanka and Ashen Bandara – both 22 – are in the squad, following decent maiden series in the Caribbean in February.

But it is the batting line-up missing the big names that will draw most attention during the three ODIs. All three matches will be played in Dhaka, on May 23, 25 and 28.

Squad: Kusal Perera (capt), Kusal Mendis (vice-capt), Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Dasun Shanaka, Ashen Bandara, Wanindu Hasaranga, Isuru Udana, Akila Dananjaya, Niroshan Dickwella, Dushmantha Chameera, Ramesh Mendis, Asitha Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando

-AFP/ espncricinfo.com

 

 

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