West Indies in Sri Lanka 2015-16 October 9, 2015

Siriwardana, Kusal Mendis named for West Indies Tests

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Fernando: Kusal Mendis inclusion surprising

Batting allrounder Milinda Siriwardana and 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Mendis have been named in Sri Lanka's squad for the two-Test series against West Indies.

Siriwardana had been expected to make an appearance in the squad, having made an encouraging start to his international career in the limited-overs formats, in addition to top-scoring in the most recent first-class season. Mendis' selection is something of a surprise, however. He had led Sri Lanka's Under-19 team in last year's Youth World Cup, but has only hit one hundred and one fifty in 16 first-class innings so far. Both Mendis and Siriwardana are playing in the ongoing three-day practice match against the West Indians.

Mendis' recent performances in the Moin-ud-Dowlah tournament in India, where he captained the Sri Lanka Development XI, had helped push him into Test contention, chief selector Kapila Wijegunawardana said. Mendis hit 156, 52 and 47 in his three innings in the tournament.

"Kusal Mendis has been on our radar for a while," Wijegunawardana said. "We felt that he earned a spot in the Test squad with the way he has been batting, and the way he batted on the recent tour to India. All the selectors have assessed his skill levels to be quite good and are backing him."

Mendis and Siriwardana displace two more experienced batsmen from the squad. Upul Tharanga has been dropped despite a decent home record in the past two years. Jehan Mubarak has also been replaced, after making the squad for the two recent series against Pakistan and India.

The remainder of the squad holds few surprises. Tharindu Kaushal retains his position after having had his doosra banned recently - but he was always expected to remain in the side on the strength of this offbreaks. Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera are the other frontline spin options.

Sri Lanka's top order looks unlikely to undergo drastic change, though each of the top six is likely to be under 30 years of age. Lahiru Thirimanne retains his position in the squad and remains vice-captain although he has only averaged 21.09 in the home Test season. Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva look set to rejoin each other at the top of the order after a brief break from opening together in the last Test against India. Kusal Perera's impressive Test debut, in which he hit two valuable fifties, will likely see him claim a place in the XI as well.

Seamer Suranga Lakmal has regained fitness after missing the series against India due to a side strain, and joins Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep and Dushmantha Chameera in the squad. Shaminda Eranga remains unavailable after picking up his third major injury this year, in his groin. There is no place for left-armer Vishwa Fernando, who was in the squad for the India series.

Sri Lanka will have to decide whether Kusal takes the gloves or whether Dinesh Chandimal keeps. In the most recent Test, Chandimal had been sent up the order and relieved of the gloves, while Kusal put in an underwhelming performance behind the stumps.

The first Test begins in Galle on October 14, before the teams move to the P Sara Oval for the second encounter.

Sri Lanka Test squad Angelo Mathews (capt), Lahiru Thirimanne (vice-capt), Kaushal Silva, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Tharindu Kaushal, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera

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

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