South Africa in Sri Lanka 2014 July 12, 2014

Tharanga recalled for South Africa Tests


Opening batsman Upul Tharanga is set to play his first Test in over six years, after being named in Sri Lanka's 15-man squad for the two-Test series against South Africa.

Middle-order batsman Kithuruwan Vithanage also found a place in the squad, as did spinner Ajantha Mendis. Fast bowler Dhammika Prasad, who was instrumental in Sri Lanka's win at Headingley, has also been retained, while Suranga Lakmal is touted to make a return after recovering from a hamstring tear.

Tharanga, 29, had been pigeon-holed as an ODI player, and lost his place in the limited-overs team in the interim, but has won his way back into the Test side on the back of a decent domestic season and a good run in the Sri Lanka A side.

He averaged 59 on England Lions' visit to Sri Lanka in February, hitting two centuries as captain, and had also averaged 43.59 in the Premier League Tournament. His last Test had been against England in 2007, and his most recent international appearance was against South Africa in a home ODI series 12 months ago.

Tharanga replaces Dimuth Karunaratne, who has been dropped after he failed to cross fifty on the tour of England, though he did get four starts and averaged over 30 after 13 Tests. Karunaratne's inability to convert bright starts into substantial scores has been a theme of his brief career so far, and had been among the reasons he was dropped - he has scored only two half-centuries in 17 innings. Kaushal Silva will open alongside Tharanga.

Injuries to Nuwan Pradeep, who strained a quad muscle in the domestic T20 tournament, and Prasanna Jayawardene, who broke a finger at Lord's, have kept both men out of the squad. Jayawardene's recovery, in particular, has been a slow process. He has not yet begun keeping or batting, perhaps because he kept and batted throughout the Lord's Test after the original diagnosis had been overly optimistic.

Kithuruwan Vithanage, who played in Sri Lanka's tour of Bangladesh in January and February, replaces Jayawardene as a batsman in the squad. Dinesh Chandimal is the most likely to take the gloves in Jayawardene's stead.

Sri Lanka's pace battery for the Tests consists of Suranga Lakmal, Dhammikka Prasad, Chanaka Welegedara and Shaminda Eranga. Welegedara had been on the England tour, but has not played a Test in 18 months. Nuwan Kulasekara, who had played one Test on that tour, has been dropped. Rangana Herath will lead the spin attack, with offspinner Dilruwan Perera set to compete with Mendis if two spinners are required in the XI. Mendis last played Tests against Bangladesh in February. Offspinner Tharindu Kaushal, however, misses out, after having been named in previous home series squads.

Angelo Mathews will lead the side, and Lahiru Thirimanne will be vice captain. The first Test begins in Galle on Wednesday, with the second scheduled at the Sinhalese Sports Club on July 24.

Squad: Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-capt), Upul Tharanga, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Kithuruwan Vithanage, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Ajantha Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Shaminda Eranga, Dhammika Prasad, Chanaka Welagedara

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kasun on July 15, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    1. Upul Tharanga 2. Kaushal Silva 3. Kumar Sangakkara 4. Mahela Jayawardena 5. Dinesh Chandimal 6. Ponna Thirimanne 7. Angelo Mathews 8. Rangana Herath 9. Ajantha Mendis 10. Suranga Lakmal 11. Shaminda Eranga

  • Dummy4 on July 15, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    Except Thirimanne, this is a good selection. Dimuth played better than Thirimanne in England.

  • Sachit on July 14, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    What happened to Suraj Randiv and Tharanga Parnavitana

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2014, 8:10 GMT

    thirimanne will score a century in this test.

  • Anver on July 14, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    Upul Tharanga is in good nick & his inclusion is a positive one.... as mentioned here Dimuth is failing frequently to convert his good starts in tests.... I think he must play some A team games & get his old form back !!!! When he played for SL-A team in the past, he used to score marathon knocks against some strong bowling attacks..... but nowadays that touch is missing from him !!!!!

  • Hareendra on July 14, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    Thirimanne is only in the team because he is the vice-captain. My XI is: Kaushal, Kusal Perera, Sanga, Mahela, Mathews, Chandimal, Kithruwan, Dilruwan, Hearath, Prasad, Eranga

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    Good decision by recalling Tharanga as a operner. BUT the replacement must be Thrimanne instead of Dimuth who was given not a bad start vs ENG. Either Dimuth could bat in the middle order.

  • Ravin on July 14, 2014, 4:22 GMT

    Where is Mubarak? He averaged hundred plus in the domestic league and was the only batsmen to top a 1000 runs this season. He is an intelligent, good cricketer and given his current form surely deserves a recall.

  • Dummy4 on July 14, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    I fully agree with yohandf1984. Thirimanne MUST be DROPPED because he got a wonderful average in England though bowlers batted better than him (except Prasad).

  • Srilankan on July 14, 2014, 2:40 GMT

    1. Tharanga 2. Kaushal 3. Sanha 4. Mahela 5. Chandimal 6. Thirimanne 7. Mathews 8. Rangana 9. Mendis 10. Eranga 11. Lakmal

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