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Andrew Fidel Fernando
July 22, 2014
In a left-field selection move, uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been flown in from England to join the Sri Lanka squad ahead of the second Test against South Africa. Dickwella was on Sri Lanka A's ongoing tour of England, but he will now be available for the SSC Test, which begins on Thursday.
SLC had said on Tuesday that Dinesh Chandimal would be sent for the A team tour in England, and that he would be unavailable for selection for the second Test.* However on Wednesday, captain Angelo Mathews said Chandimal would remain with the team for the SSC Test, and that he was officially available for selection. Given Dickwella's inclusion, though, Chandimal is unlikely to play.
Chandimal has kept wicket in the last two Tests, after Prasanna Jayawardene sustained a broken finger, but while his keeping has been tidy, he has not produced consistent runs. He hit 45 off 55 balls in the first innings at Headingley, but has been out hooking in single figures in each of his three innings since. He has appeared shaky against the bouncer since Junaid Khan had him out hooking twice in the Test series in the UAE, in January.
His lack of form in the limited-overs formats will also have contributed to the selectors' decision. Chandimal dropped himself from the side during Sri Lanka's World T20 campaign, and was also left out of the squad for the recent one-dayers against South Africa.
Dickwella, 21, has been a rising star in domestic cricket, and had progressed directly to Premier League competition from school cricket. An attacking top-order batsman for Nondescripts Cricket Club, Dickwella has three first-class centuries and five fifties at an average of 34.45 in 35 innings. He had also been Sri Lanka's schoolboy cricketer of the year in 2012, when he led Trinity College to the national championship.
Dickwella had not impressed for the A team against England Lions in February and March, but did return to form in Sri Lanka's Premier League competition. He had put on a 170-run opening stand alongside Upul Tharanga in the final of that tournament, contributing 87 from 99 balls to that partnership.
Kaushal Silva is also a wicketkeeper, but the selectors are wary of giving him the gloves in Tests, because keeping may leave him fatigued when he opens the batting. Kumar Sangakkara can also keep, but he has not had the gloves regularly since 2006 for similar reasons.
Kithuruwan Vithanage, who is already in the squad, offers Sri Lanka another batting option if they decide to make further changes to the top seven . In addition to positive middle-order batting, Vithanage also offers part-time legspin, which may count in his favour if the SSC pitch is expected to take turn.
* - July 23, 2014, 0830 GMT - The story was updated with information that Chandimal would remain in Colombo
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernandoFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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