Ajantha Mendis included in Test squad for SA
Ajantha Mendis has been included in Sri Lanka's 16-man Test squad for the tour of South Africa in December ahead of the offspinner Suraj Randiv. There was no place for the experienced batsman Thilan Samaraweera, who continues to be ignored after having been axed for the Pakistan series as well.
The squad also includes fast bowler Dilhara Fernando - who last played a Test on the England tour - in place of the injured Dhammika Prasad. Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara, Nuwan Pradeep and Suranga Lakmal complete the Sri Lanka pace attack with Rangana Herath the second spinner.
Mendis missed the home Test series against Australia because of a back injury he sustained during the preceding ODI series and also missed the UAE tour. Randiv played the Sharjah Test against Pakistan, taking 2 for 95.
Samaraweera's omission for the second straight tour puts a question mark over his career. Duleep Mendis, Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors, had earlier said Samaraweera would not figure in the long-term plans of the selectors who intended to give more opportunities to youngsters. Sri Lanka adjusted to his absence against Australia by batting the captain Tillakaratne Dilshan in the middle order while Lahiru Thirimanne opened with Tharanga Paranavitana. They persisted with the same combination for the first two Tests against Pakistan, before Dilshan returned to the top as Thirimanne was dropped for the Sharjah Test.
Wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva, who made his Test debut in that series, has been included in place of the injured Prasanna Jayawardene. Allrounder Kosala Kulasekara lost his spot to Thisara Perera while the batsman Dimuth Karunaratne was also included.
Sri Lanka play three Tests in South Africa followed by a five-match ODI series. The first Test starts in Centurion on December 15.
Sri Lanka squad: Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews (vice-capt), Tharanga Paranavitana, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Kaushal Silva (wk), Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Chanaka Welegedara, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath