Sri Lanka in South Africa 2016-17 January 11, 2017

Sri Lanka pick uncapped Thikshila de Silva for SA T20Is


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Who is Thikshila de Silva?

Uncapped batting allrounder Thikshila de Silva has been named in Sri Lanka's squad for the T20 series against South Africa, which starts from January 20. Thikshila is yet to play international cricket in any format; the other new member of the T20 squad is the left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan, who has played three Tests and an ODI.

Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who impressed in the World T20 last year, has been left out in favour of Seekkuge Prasanna, who also offers hitting power. Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera has been omitted as well, while seamers Isuru Udana and Nuwan Kulasekara have earned recalls. The other major omissions are wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera, and allrounders Thisara Perera (who is currently playing in the Big Bash League) and Dasun Shanaka.

Thikshila, 23, has largely been picked on potential and on his reputation as a clean striker of the ball for Chilaw Marians. In 15 domestic T20 innings so far, he has hit 15 sixes and as many fours, collecting his 218 runs at a strike rate of 144. A left-handed batsman, Thikshila also bowls right-arm seam, and has six T20 wickets and an economy rate of 8.38. Though there has been no domestic T20 cricket in Sri Lanka since last February, he hit a run-a-ball 92 against SSC in the most recent round of the Premier League Tournament, which began on January 6.

Though largely considered a long-format bowler, it is perhaps Sandakan's ability to turn the ball away from the left-handed batsmen that has earned him his selection, with Prasanna already in the squad, along with left-arm spinning allrounder Sachith Pathirana. Sandakan made a promising start to his Test career last year, but only has 16 domestic T20 wickets and an economy rate of 8.74 across 15 appearances.

Lakshan Sandakan made a promising start to his Test career last year but has only 16 wickets in 15 domestic T20 games © Associated Press

Kulasekara's return to the T20 squad was expected, after he had appeared to reclaim some of his old rhythm and inswing in the recent ODI tri-series against Zimbabwe. He had had a long, ineffective run in 2015, and had been dropped from both limited-overs sides. Udana - a T20 specialist with a number of slower balls - Suranga Lakmal, and Nuwan Pradeep make up the remaining frontline seam options.

Save for Kusal Perera's omission, there were no major surprises on the batting front. Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Asela Gunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella are be among those who will be considered for top-order spots, with captain Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal likely to feature in the XI.

Kusal Perera's omission appears to be largely due to lack of form. In four ODI innings during the Zimbabwe tri-series, he had scores of 21, 4, 7 and 14. He also collected single-figure scores in the first Test against South Africa, and was subsequently dropped from the Test XI.

A bout of dengue before Christmas slowed Lasith Malinga's efforts to regain match fitness, leaving him unavailable for the T20Is and ODIs in South Africa. He will now only attempt to return in time for the three-match T20 series against Australia, scheduled to begin on February 17

The first of the three T20s against South Africa is set to be played on January 20 in Centurion.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • manjula on January 17, 2017, 19:05 GMT

    It is best to remove the selection panel and save some money...Then list post the 20 players online for fans to nominate the playing XI in order. I think fans will better than selectors with more transparency ... Fans would not have selected Kusal Perera for SA tour at all

  • Sachitra on January 17, 2017, 11:08 GMT

    This is really pathetic to see. Sanga and Mahela never thought about a future SL team. Instead they piled on runs/records not giving enough exposure to younger generations. This is why guys like Milinda Siriwardena, Asela whom dominates SL first class cricket, had to make their debuts after their 30s. And whats more, now they're introducing new bloods to a lineup which hasn't been even blooded. RIP Sri Lankan cricket. Only your proud history will be remembered.

  • Mohamed Afulal on January 17, 2017, 6:42 GMT

    We were just white washed in Tests. SA wickets suit swinging pace bowlers. Last test did not have a spinner in SA while we played Herath for zero result. In the same way, CSA will have pace as their weapon to rattle Lankan batters & not spinners. I thought Lahiru Kumara deserved a place in T20 & ODI unless he was given a break to prevent injury. Anyways we can't expect much unless batsmen front up put in good total and allow their bowlers to defend. One must not forget that we play in South Africa and not spin friendly flat decks in Sri Lanka. Wish our team success nonetheless!

  •   cricfan43122214 on January 16, 2017, 13:43 GMT

    jayasuriya and etc...please leave...just good for SL cricket. ithink milinda and kapugedara should in for 20 and one day, anji step down.. its should happen

  • kamaln0463195 on January 16, 2017, 1:41 GMT

    I dont know how Slc bord made their selection for a tournament. They are not trying to raise up the cricket winning momentum. Here we missed the talented guy Amila aponso. He has the ability to control the ball in any condition.

  • nandim1101552 on January 15, 2017, 17:44 GMT

    This SL T20 squad not enough for SA. isuru, Chadimal& lakshan are not good T20 players.that places should give shanaka, kapugedara&vandersey.this time SA select very young team against SL.

    Matthews' captaincy should handover to malinga for next WC.

  • Sam on January 15, 2017, 14:36 GMT

    Don't play Kusal Perera no 3 in test and drop him. What logic is that? I think Vandersey is better at this point than Lakshan for T20. Also wasn't Pathirana and Kapugedara the top scorers in the last series. We are going to tinker with the squad and line up until the WC. Sanath look at how the top teams do it. This is a team sport.

  • Bharath on January 15, 2017, 2:20 GMT

    That kid vandersey is a real talent ..the way they are using him is absolutely not done.....picking him for a series then dropping him ....THE SELECTORS SurLY NEED TO GO

  • Sam on January 14, 2017, 14:08 GMT

    Oh man.... no hope! T20 WC coming, not many games to go and we are still trying Udana and Prasanna. Chandimal has had a lean patch, he is still around?

  • Amindha on January 14, 2017, 13:22 GMT

    They dont appear out of thin air @aneshthered

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