July 30, 2002

Aravinda de Silva returns to Sri Lanka one-day team


Aravinda de Silva has been named in a new-look Sri Lanka one-day squad for the three-match one-day series against Bangladesh starting Sunday and the Morocco Cup triangular that follows.

The selectors have axed seven players after winning just one game in the NatWest triangular series in England last month, as they look forward to the 2003 ICC World Cup next February.

The squad was finalised on Tuesday afternoon after a short meeting between the team management and the new three-man selection panel headed by Guy de Alwis.

Batsmen Avishka Gunawardene, Naveed Nawaz and Chamara Silva have all been dropped, as has wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwithrana, who had opened the batting during the early of the NatWest series.

Changes have also been made to the bowling attack, with fast bowlers Nuwan Zoysa and Pramodya Wickramasinghe both being left out.

De Silva, 36, vastly experienced having played 275 matches, scoring 8430 matches at 35.13, had been determined to win back his place, working hard on his fitness since returning from England. He last played against New Zealand in February 2001.

The veteran right-hander is expected to bat at the pivotal number six position, strengthening the middle order. Captain Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu will open the innings with Kumar Sangakkara batting at number three.

Leg-spinner Upul Chandana, 30, will vie for the problematic all-rounder's spot at number seven with new medium pacer Hasantha Fernando, 22, who performed well with bat and ball for Chilaw Marians in domestic cricket last season.

Right-arm fast bowler Chamila Gamage, 23, who caught the eye in the second Test against Bangladesh, and right-armer Pulasthi Gunaratne are both set to make their ODI debuts as back up to the established trio of Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando and Buddika Fernando.

Muttiah Muralitharan, who made himself unavailable for the NatWest series due to a shoulder injury, returns to the one-day side having recovered full fitness, meaning that Thilan Samaraweera loses his place.

With Morocco expected to assist the fast bowlers, the selectors believe they now have the basis of their World Cup squad. The one likely inclusion is the introduction of left-arm fast bowler Ruchira Perera once he has completed his rehabilitation.

The selectors may make changes for the third One-Day International against Bangladesh next Wednesday, including some players not included in this squad.

The team are due to leave for Morocco early Friday morning.

Full squad:

Sanath Jayasuriya (Capt), Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jaywardene, Russel Arnold, Aravinda de Silva, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Chandana, Hasantha Fernando, Chaminda Vaas, Chamila Lakshitha Gamage, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Pulasthi Gunaratne, Charitha Buddika Fernando