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Andrew Fidel Fernando
April 23, 2014
Sri Lanka's selectors have relieved Dinesh Chandimal of all his leadership positions, appointing Lasith Malinga as the T20I captain and Lahiru Thirimanne as vice-captain across all formats untill March 2015.
Chandimal had had a poor run in limited-overs cricket, particularly in Asian conditions, but had maintained a good record in Tests, averaging 63.75 in 10 innings, since being named vice-captain in February last year. His across-the-board demotion, however, is a strong indication the selectors feel Chandimal must devote himself solely to improving his batting.
Though his on-field leadership had reaped positive results, Chandimal has shown little batting promise in T20 cricket, in which he averages 13.30 after 20 innings. He had initially impressed in the ODI team, but his returns even in that format have subsided after he had been named vice-captain. Since Februrary 2013, Chandimal has averaged 25.55, with a strike rate of 72, largely batting from lower in the order than he prefers.
Chandimal had chosen to leave himself out of the XI for the semi-final and final of the recent World T20, leaving Malinga to lead the team to victory, and had been replaced in the XI by Thirimanne, who struck an important 44 in the semi-final.
The selectors had made Chandimal the youngest Sri Lanka captain in any format, at 23, following largely impressive returns in Australia in January last year. Chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya had said at the time that Sri Lanka sought to develop a young leadership core, in preparation for the looming retirements of former captains Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Jayawardene and Sangakkara had in any case indicated they would not accept leadership roles in the twilight of their careers.
Thirimanne has impressed with the bat in recent months, picking up a Player-of-the-Tournament award for top-scoring at the Asia Cup. His tournament aggregate of 279 included a century in the final. Averaging 49 from 14 innings in the top three, he has been a more reliable ODI selection than Chandimal, particularly in the past year.
Sri Lanka embark on a full away tour of England next month, before full home tours against South Africa and Pakistan follow in July and August. They have six Tests, eleven ODIs and at least two T20 internationals scheduled for the next four months.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernandoFeeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando
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