Minister influences Jayasuriya selection
Sanath Jayasuriya makes a return to the Sri Lanka squad for the Asia Cup in Pakistan after having been dropped for the one-dayers in the West Indies last month. Jayasuriya, who has retired from Tests, was included in the 15-member squad following the intervention of Gamini Lokuge, the country's sports minister, after selectors had left him out of the original squad.
The selectors had met on Tuesday but the minister delayed ratifying the squad, which helped Jayasuriya make his case with an unbeaten 114 for the Mumbai Indians against the Chennai Super Kings.
The sports minister summoned the four-member selection committee headed by Ashantha de Mel, the former Sri Lanka fast bowler, and asked them to reconsider and include Jayasuriya.
The out-of-form Upul Tharanga was omitted in order the accommodate the 38-year-old, who along with Sachin Tendulkar is the only player to feature in over 400 ODIs.
Three other players who were part of the ODI squad in the West Indies have been dropped - fast bowlers Ishara Amerasinghe and Thilan Thushara, and legspinner Malinga Bandara. Farveez Maharoof and Dilhara Fernando return from injuries while Muttiah Muralitharan, who had been rested for the West Indies ODIs, has been included as well.
Muralitharan's inclusion means he might play alongside Ajantha Mendis, the mystery spinner who bamboozled the West Indian batsmen with his several variations. Lasith Malinga was once again overlooked as he had not recovered from a knee injury. Mahela Jayawardene will lead the side, while Kumar Sangakkara, who's also his team-mate in the Kings XI Punjab side in the IPL, will be his deputy.
The tournament will be held in Pakistan from June 24 to July 6. Sri Lanka has been grouped alongside Bangladesh and United Arab Emirates. The top two teams from each group qualify to the next phase, where the teams will play each other once to decide the two finalists.
Sri Lanka squad: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Udawatte, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Kaushal Weeraratne, Farveez Maharoof, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Jehan Mubarak, Nuwan Kulasekera.