'We opted for experience' - Jayasuriya
Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya said that his selection panel opted for experience rather than young talent while picking the squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in England. Sri Lanka are clubbed with hosts England, Australia and New Zealand in Group A and begin their campaign on June 9 against New Zealand in Cardiff.
"We picked a team with experience because we are playing three of the best ODI teams in the group," Jayasuriya told reporters on Thursday. "Our priority is to get into the next stage of the tournament. We exposed some youngsters during the home series against Bangladesh but in this type of tournament we have to play our best and an experienced side can handle pressure well."
Sri Lanka recalled left-arm fast bowler Chanaka Welegedara to the one-day squad after three years. Welegedara, 32, last played a one-day international in June 2010 and has struggled with injuries since then. He returned mid-way from Sri Lanka's tour to Australia after suffering a hamstring injury.
"Since he returned home from Australia, Welegedara has gone through a rehabilitation programme and has been declared fit by the team physio," Jayasuriya said. "We have been monitoring his progress in the domestic matches closely where he bowled quite a few overs without showing any signs of discomfort. We picked him in the squad to give variety to the bowling. He is an experienced bowler and could be useful in English conditions."
Welegedara was among three players returning to the 15-man squad along with batsman Mahela Jayawardene, who missed the home series against Bangladesh due to a finger injury, and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who was rested.
Jayasuriya said that Jayawardene could also step in as an opener but added, "The choice will be left to the selectors on tour but Mahela can be one of the options." The two openers named in the squad are Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kusal Perera.