Jayawardene to lead Sri Lanka in Australia
Hours after Tillakaratne Dilshan resigned as Sri Lanka captain from all three formats, the country's new selection panel appointed former captain Mahela Jayawardene in his place to lead the ODI squad to Australia for the tri-series in February involving the hosts and India. Angelo Mathews remains the vice-captain of the 15-member squad which also includes Dilshan.
Jayawardene was ODI captain from 2004 till 2009 (he took over as Test captain in 2006). He resigned in 2009, saying he wanted his successor to have sufficient time to build the team for the 2011 World Cup. Kumar Sangakkara took over from Jayawardene but stepped down after leading Sri Lanka to the final of the World Cup. Dilshan led Sri Lanka for nine months after the World Cup, but resigned on Monday following series defeats in both Tests and ODIs in all his four assignments.
Jayawardene has led Sri Lanka in 97 ODIs, winning 57 and losing 35. Whether Jayawardene is handed the Test captaincy as well remains to be seen; Sri Lanka's next Test series begins only in the last week of March against England at home.
Farveez Maharoof, the bowling allrounder, and Chanaka Welegedara, the fast bowler, were recalled after having last played an ODI for Sri Lanka back in June 2010. The duo were the only changes from the squad for the recent ODI series in South Africa, in place of Kosala Kulasekara and Dilhara Fernando. Thilan Samaraweera, who was ignored for the South Africa ODIs, was put on stand-by.
Maharoof was the leading run-scorer in Tier A of the 50-over domestic Premier Limited Over Tournament 2011-12 with 219 runs from six games at an average of 43.80 for the Nondescripts Cricket Club. He also picked up 10 wickets in the tournament at 17.00 and an economy rate of four. Welegedara has been a regular member of the Test side of late, and has now been rewarded with a place in the limited-overs squad as well.
Rangana Herath and the offspinner Sachithra Senanayake, who debuted against South Africa recently, will form the spin attack. There was no place for Suraj Randiv, who last played an ODI against Australia in August 2011.