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Andrew Fidel Fernando
June 2, 2014
Injured fast bowler Suranga Lakmal has been left out of Sri Lanka's Test squad to England, allowing the return of left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara Test squad, 18 months after he played his most recent Test.
Nuwan Kulasekara, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Pradeep and Dhammika Prasad, who are already in England, form the remainder of the pace battery, with Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera providing the spin options.
Among the batsmen, Dinesh Chandimal retains his place in the Test squad, while Prasanna Jayawardene returns to take the gloves. Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne also holds on to his place, alongside Kaushal Silva, but middle-order batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage has been omitted.
Sri Lanka team management had hoped Lakmal would recover from his grade two hamstring tear in time for the Lord's Test, but it now appears he will not be available for the first match. The bowler only began running work on Monday, but will likely be added to the squad if he regains fitness quickly enough.
The loss of Lakmal is a significant blow to Sri Lanka, who had planned for him and Eranga to lead the pace attack in the Tests. Both bowlers had showed vast signs of improvement in the four Tests they played together this year.
Welegedara, 33, had his Boxing Day Test in 2012 cut short by a hamstring tear, and had since been plagued by more injuries, which prevented him from playing more than four first-class matches in the 2014 domestic season. He took six wickets in those games. He and Kulasekara are the most experienced pacemen in the squad, with 20 Tests apiece. They are also the only bowlers to have played Tests in England.
Karunaratne and Kaushal will likely open the innings, though Lahiru Thirimanne is also in reserve for that role. Thirimanne's recent promotion to vice-captaincy, though, means he is almost certain to be in the playing XI, likely displacing Chandimal from the middle order. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene are set to take their places at Nos. 3 and 4, with captain Angelo Mathews to follow at either No. 5 or 6.
Offspinner Perera's impressive turns in the UAE and Bangladesh this year have been enough to safeguard his second spinner's spot, but he is the least experienced bowler in a green Sri Lanka squad. Eight of the 15 players have never played Tests in England, including captain Mathews.
The series will be Mathews' first Test assignment out of Asia since being given the captaincy.
Sri Lanka squad Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Shaminda Eranga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara, Nuwan Pradeep, Dhammika Prasad
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernandoFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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