Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Even though he has been included in Sri Lanka’s World Cup squad, pace bowler Lasith Malinga will have to undergo a fitness test before his participation in the tournament is guaranteed.
Malinga had his ankle surgically repaired in September and as a result of that, he missed the ODI series against India and England. However, he is expected to return during the last two ODIs of the upcoming series against New Zealand.
“A player like Malinga, we have to take a gamble because he is a match-winner,” chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said. “We know and everyone knows what he can do. We need him in the bowling department for it to be strong. At the moment he is undergoing a rehabilitation programme. We are not very sure of playing him even in the last two ODIs against New Zealand. He might miss them because we want to make sure that he is fit for the World Cup.”
Pace bowler Nuwan Kulasekara has also been picked despite his poor run of form as of late.
However, the biggest surprise was the fact that Sri Lanka opted to include Dimuth Karunaratne as their opening batsman ahead of Kusal Perera and Upul Tharanga.
“In the few games [domestic] he played, Nuwan bowled very well,” Jayasuriya said. “At the same time he rectified some of his technical mistakes with the help of [bowling coach] Champaka Ramanayake.
“We received a good report from Ramanayake that Kulasekera was bowling well, and in Australia and New Zealand we could encounter some grassy pitches, so Kulasekera’s experience will be vital especially with Malinga not 100% fit.
“We were a bit worried about the opening slot. We tried Upul Tharanga and Kusal Perera and even tried Mahela as opener. But Dimuth is a solid opening bat and since the conditions are also different in Australia and New Zealand, he has adjusted himself very well. We looked at him as opener and gave him a chance in the first Test [against New Zealand]. He proved that he can bat for longer periods under those conditions.
“With two new balls at either end and in different conditions we expect him to bat through the first 10 overs and play a long innings. He knows his game plan, his strengths and weaknesses. We don’t want to lose quick wickets early. That was the problem we had in the past. We brought in Dimuth to plug that hole so that the other batsmen can play their natural game.”
Sri Lanka’s World Cup Squad: Angelo Mathews (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga (subject to fitness), Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake