Kulasekara, Eranga in second Test squad
Sri Lanka's selectors have dumped fast bowlers Dammika Prasad and Thilan Thushara, recalled seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, and included a new face in Shaminda Eranga in their 16-member squad to face West Indies in the second Test starting at the R Premadasa Stadium on Tuesday. The pair will join Dilhara Fernando and another uncapped Test fast bowler, Suranga Lakmal, who have been retained in the squad.
Chairman of selectors Aravinda de Silva said that with their main spearhead Lasith Malinga unavailable for Test matches, Sri Lanka are going through a transitional period of trying to find the right combination of fast bowlers to share the new ball in Test matches.
"Most of them don't want to play in a Test match but want to restrict themselves to playing fifty-over and T20 cricket," he said. "Some of them cannot play back-to-back Test matches. This is something unheard of in the past. In Malinga's case we have even promoted him to the top category in the player contracts, but he is not fit enough to play Test cricket."
Kulasekara played the last of his 11 Tests in December 2009 against India at Mumbai. The 24-year-old Eranga is a right-arm medium fast bowler who represents Chilaw Marians in the Premier club championships.
Sri Lanka fast bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake said that Eranga is a bright prospect and is capable of bowling around 140kph. He was discovered during the Pace Ace programme conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket in 2006. Eranga, who made his first-class debut in 2006, has taken 34 wickets at a cost of 41 runs apiece.
He is unlikely to make it to the final eleven, but 23-year-old Lakmal's prospects are bright. He has been the leading wicket-taker for Sri Lanka 'A' in recent matches, and is a skilful bowler who can swing as well as seam the ball. Although yet to play in a Test. Lakmal has appeared in six ODIs for his country.
With the recall of Kulasekara, Sri Lanka will have to decide who will play the second Test after the disappointing performance put on by Prasad and Thushara at Galle. The pair went wicketless, conceding 195 runs between them from 51 overs.
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara was critical of the bowling. "The first six overs were probably okay, although we didn't make the batsmen play too much. But after that I thought the lines and the lengths we bowled on this track was not good enough for us to put any pressure on them either to get wickets or to cut down on the runs.
"It's two things on these tracks. No. 1 is to try and make the new ball work for us. If it doesn't work in picking up wickets how we build up pressure by bowling one side of the wicket to one set field. It's nice to limit them to one side and dry the runs up. Those are the things we got to do a bit better and when that happens with our spinners we can build a lot of pressure."
Sri Lanka squad for second Test: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavitana, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene (wk), Suraj Randiv, Ajantha Mendis, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dilhara Fernando, Suranga Lakmal, Rangana Herath, Thilina Kandamby, Kaushal Silva, Shaminda Eranga