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October 21, 2012
Ajantha Mendis' fitness remains a concern for Sri Lanka as they prepare to take on New Zealand in a series of Tests, ODIs and a one-off T20 international starting October 30. "Ajantha is still recovering from a side strain which he suffered during the World T20. That is our only concern right now," Sri Lanka's team manager Charith Senanayake said on Saturday.
Mendis picked up the injury during Sri Lanka's opening World T20 game against Zimbabwe on September 18 but only missed the rain-affected group match against South Africa. He finished as the top wicket-taker in the competition with 15 wickets at an average of 9.80. "Ajantha played these matches taking painkillers, he has still not recovered 100% from the injury. He is still under treatment," Senanayake said. "We have made practice optional for the World T20 players, but the rest of the squad is at practice. We will regroup on October 23."
Sri Lanka's selectors will pick the squads for the series against New Zealand next week. The chairman of the selection panel Ashantha de Mel said he would be speaking to captain Mahela Jayawardene and coach Graham Ford through tele-conference before the selection committee sits down to name the three squads. Jayawardene is currently in South Africa leading Delhi Daredevils in the Champions League while Ford, a South African, has returned home for a short break after the World T20.
Apart from Jayawardene, several other Sri Lankan players are involved with the Champions League. Among them are Lasith Malinga and Thisara Perera (for Mumbai Indians), Nuwan Kulasekara (for Chennai Super Kings) and the Uva Next team which has T20 cricketer Dilshan Munaweera and ODI players including Dilhara Fernando, Sachitra Senanayake and Seekkuge Prasanna.
Jayawardene stepped down as Sri Lanka's T20 captain after the World T20. Angelo Mathews is expected to lead Sri Lanka in the one-off T20 International against New Zealand in Pallekele on October 30.
"We are looking at resting some of the senior players and fielding a young team for the T20 game. The seniors will be back for the ODIs and Tests," De Mel said.
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