Malinga, Tharanga in ODI squad
Fast bowler Lasith Malinga and opener Upul Tharanga have been included in the 16-man Sri Lanka squad for the first three ODIs against Australia. Malinga is back after a back ailment kept him out the Twenty20 series that Sri Lanka swept 2-0, while Tharanga returns following a three-month suspension after testing positive for banned substances. Dhammika Prasad and Dilruwan Perera, who were a part of the Twenty20 squad, missed out. Thilina Kandamby, who missed the Twenty20s against Australia after being appointed vice-captain for the one-dayers in England, was also left out.
Malinga was in the list of 20 probables for the series named on August 6, but, following concerns with his back, was not picked for the Twenty20s in order to give him time to get fit for the five ODIs. He was part of Sri Lanka's limited-overs squad in England where he picked up six wickets in the five games.
Tharanga, who made 395 runs at 56.42 in Sri Lanka's World Cup campaign, was suspended after the tournament for the use of a banned drug, but extenuating circumstances meant a three-month suspension. The anti-doping tribunal accepted Tharanga's submission that he had ingested the substances by drinking a herbal remedy given to him to ease discomfort caused by a long-standing shoulder injury. "Tharanga had no intention to enhance his sporting performance or to mask the use of another performance enhancing substance, but that he had failed to satisfy the high levels of personal responsibility implicit upon him as an international cricketer subject to anti-doping rules," the tribunal had said.
Tharanga's ban ends today, making him available for the first match of the series, and he is likely to join captain Tillakaratne Dilshan at the top of the order, allowing Mahela Jayawardene to slot back into the middle order with Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Silva. Angelo Mathews, who was named vice-captain, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera and the uncapped Shaminda Eranga - who was part of the T20 squad - constitute the allrounders, while Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Kulasekara make up the seam attack along with Malinga. Ajantha Mendis, Suraj Randiv and Rangana Herath - who was dropped for the limited-overs series in England - are the three frontline spinners in the squad.
Kandamby had a poor England tour, managing only 36 runs from the four one-day games he played. Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne who played only two games on the tour - one against Scotland, in which he scored a half-century - was also left out. Dilhara Fernando, who was was withdrawn from the England limited-overs squad due to injury, also failed to make the cut.
The five-match ODI series begins in Pallekele on August 10 and the selectors will pick the squad for the last two ODIs after the conclusion of the third game.
Squad: Tillakaratne Dilshan (capt), Angelo Mathews (vice-capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara (wk), Dinesh Chandimal, Jeevan Mendis, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Upul Tharanga, Suranga Lakmal, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suraj Randiv, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silva, Shaminda Eranga