Sri Lanka in India, 2006-07 January 17, 2007

Arnold handed World Cup opportunity



Arnold's last major series was against England in 2006 © AFP

Russel Arnold and Upul Chandana have both been included in the 15-man squad for Sri Lanka's one-day tour of India next month, increasing their chances of participating in the World Cup.

Arnold and Chandana, who both starred in NCC's six-wicket win in the Premier limited overs final two weeks ago, make their comebacks along with Nuwan Zoysa and Nuwan Kulasekera. These four replace the experienced pair of Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas, both of whom are carrying niggling injuries, together with Ruchira Perera and Chamara Kapugedera.

Following his excellent form in the past few months - domestically and for Sri Lanka A - Arnold's call-up is well deserved, and puts in doubt Kapugedera's inclusion for the World Cup. A good performance from Arnold in India will be enough to convince the selectors that he is in good shape for the World Cup.

The same can be said of Chandana who bowled exceptionally well for Sri Lanka A on their recent tour to India for the Duleep trophy tournament and then led NCC to victory against Moors SC by capturing five wickets.

Chandana gets his break because Muralitharan is not available. In the past Chandana has more or less filled Muralitharan's shoes when the great spinner was sidelined by injury. The lack of quality off spinners in the country is exposed by the fact that Chandana joins another leg-spinner. Malinga Bandara. in the squad. Like Kapugedera, Bandara will also feel threatened by Chandana's presence as the World Cup selection nears.

The need for a left-arm fast bowler in the absence of Vaas and Perera has forced the selectors' hand in going for Zoysa, who last appeared in a one-dayer against India in Vadodara in November 2005.

Sri Lanka play India in four matches starting from February 8 at Poona and then at Rajkot (Feb 11), Margoa (Feb 14) and Visakhapatnam (Feb 17). This will be Sri Lanka's final engagement before the World Cup in the Caribbean.

Squad
Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Kumar Sangakkara (vice-capt & wk), Sanath Jayasuriya, Upul Tharanga, Marvan Atappattu, Russel Arnold, Chamara Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Farveez Maharoof, Upul Chandana, Malinga Bandara, Dilhara Fernando, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Zoysa, Nuwan Kulasekera

Reserves: Chamara Kapugedera, Akalanka Ganegama, Kaushal Lokuarachchi

Charlie Austin is Cricinfo's Sri Lankan correspondent