Sri Lanka recall Maharoof for England, Ireland ODIs
Allrounder Farveez Maharoof, who last played an international game in March 2012, has been recalled to the Sri Lanka side for the upcoming ODI matches against Ireland and England.
Maharoof and four other players - allrounder Danushka Gunathilaka, legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna, offspinner Suraj Randiv and batsman Upul Tharanga - will fly to the UK to join the current Sri Lankan squad on tour. Some Test specialists are expected to return to Sri Lanka, but the selectors have not yet told the team which players will depart. Sri Lanka are set to play Ireland on June 16 and 18, before the five-match series against England starts from June 21.
Sri Lanka will be without spinner Rangana Herath and fast bowlers Dhammika Prasad and Dushmantha Chameera. While Herath announced his retirement from limited-overs cricket in April, both Prasad and Chameera were ruled out of the tour due to injuries. Prasad suffered a shoulder injury in the lead-up to the first Test against England at Headingley, and Chameera returned home after playing only one Test due to a stress fracture on his lower back.
Maharoof, 31, was the leading wicket-taker in Sri Lanka's List A competition, the Premier Limited Over Tournament, in 2015-16, taking 16 wickets in five matches at an average of 6.31. He also struck 77 runs for Nondescripts Cricket Club in the tournament. Overall, Maharoof has played 22 Tests, 104 ODIs and seven T20Is and has taken 133 ODI wickets.
Randiv, too, performed well for his side, Galle Cricket Club, in the Premier Limited Over Tournament, finishing as their leading wicket-taker with seven dismissals in five matches. The offspinner last played for Sri Lanka in November 2014, touring India for a five-ODI series.
Notable absences from the squad include Nuwan Kulasekara, who recently retired from Tests to focus on the shorter formats, and Thisara Perera. Though once a key bowler in the limited-overs attack, Kulasekara's form appeared to have dipped over a two-year period. His 25 ODI wickets since the start of 2014 have come at an average of 42.8. Thisara Perera has also been dropped thanks to slide in form.
Batsman Tharanga has not played for Sri Lanka since July last year, but makes his way back to the squad after an impressive first-class season, in which he struck 803 Premier League runs at an average of 61.76. He has more recently also been among the runs in the Dhaka Premier League, in which he hit four scores of 70 or more in seven innings. He may be in contention to open the batting, as Tillakaratne Dilshan has opted out of the tour. Kusal Perera and Gunathilaka are the other potential opening batsmen on tour.
The selection of Maharoof, Tharanga and Randiv is a slight departure from the selection panel's quest for youth and regeneration. All three players - Tharanga in particular - have enjoyed limited-overs success at times in their career, but had been discarded due to loss of form.