Sri Lanka in India 2015-16 January 28, 2016

Dilhara Fernando gets surprise Sri Lanka recall


Dilhara Fernando's last appearance for Sri Lanka was in July 2012 © AFP

Sri Lanka have picked fast bowler Dilhara Fernando for the T20 series against India, which begins on February 9. Dilhara last played for Sri Lanka in mid-2012. Legspinnning allrounder Seekkuge Prasanna also makes a comeback.

T20 captain Lasith Malinga misses out due to injury, as does allrounder Angelo Mathews, seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath. Malinga is still recovering from a knee injury that kept him out of the tour to New Zealand. It is learnt that he will require another fortnight to regain full fitness. Dinesh Chandimal leads the side in Malinga's stead.

Mathews is nursing a groin strain that prevented him from bowling in New Zealand on Sri Lanka's previous T20 assignment. His injury is less severe than Malinga's, though, and Sri Lanka Cricket are hoping he will be available for the Asia Cup at the end of the month.

Sri Lanka lost the T20s to New Zealand, earlier this month, 2-0. Among the others missing out from that squad are batsmen Shehan Jayasuriya and Kithuruwan Vithanage, pacers Suranga Lakmal and Isuru Udana. Of course, batsman Kusal Perera, who was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance, also misses out. Nuwan Pradeep was not considered for selection due to injury. There is no place for Ajantha Mendis, despite good returns in the recently-concluded domestic T20 competition.

Asela Gunaratne, who bats in the middle order and bowls offspin for Sri Lanka Army, and Kasun Rajitha, the Badureliya Sports Club seamer, are the only uncapped members of the squad that will visit India. Middle order batsman Dasun Shanaka, who played one T20 international last year, keeps his spot after his record-setting run in domestic T20.

Fernando's inclusion comes as something of a surprise, after the selectors had invested heavily in youth over the past three years. Now 36, he bowled himself into contention in the recent T20 competition, taking 11 wickets in four matches, with an economy rate of 8.40. Fernando is said to have much of the pace of his younger years, and has been consistently penetrative across formats this season. Fernando had finished third on the Premier T20 Tournament wicket-taker's list, but there is no place in the squad for Mendis, who finished second, with 12 scalps from six games. Prasanna picked up nine wickets in that tournament, at an economy rate of 6.79.

Shanaka, 24, has been in sublime form for the Sinhalese Sports Club this season, cracking two breakneck hundreds in his seven Premier T20 innings. He had hit a Sri Lanka record 16 sixes on his way to 123 from 46 balls in one of those innings, and was also the top run scorer for the tournament. Gunaratne had not been in quite such hot form, but hit an important 65 not out in the final of that competition, to guide Army to the championship.

Rajitha also has a good domestic T20 record, with 23 wickets from 11 matches and an economy rate of 6.77. He had not played the Premier T20 tournament, but has made a good start in the Provincial T20 tournament, taking a pair wickets in each of the first two matches. Rajitha had also been impressive in a tour match against India last year, albeit in the longer form of the game.

Elsewhere, quick Dushmantha Chameera and legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who played on the recent New Zealand tour, retain their places. Left-arm seamer Binura Fernando, who played in the two T20 series last year, also finds a place. Prasanna, Thisara Perera and Milinda Siriwardana comprise the all-round options, with Tillakaratne Dilshan's offbreaks also on offer.

Lahiru Thirimanne does not have a place in the team, despite having played well in Sri Lanka's 2014 World T20 campaign. Opener Danushka Gunathilaka - who dazzled briefly in New Zealand - and Chamara Kapugedara, are in the squad.

Sri Lanka play three T20s in India, beginning in Pune on February 9, followed by games in Delhi on February 12 and Visakhapatnam on February 14.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ajanthan Selvarajah on February 5, 2016, 23:53 GMT

    No any gud cricket players from north and east?

  • Deepal on February 2, 2016, 15:19 GMT

    Dilhara's pace option will be good , but did the selectors check on his fielding ??!! He was one of the lousy fielders when playing ODI's , with flyers going thru his hands..some instances the Captains did not know where to hide him ...& in the T20 format one expect your fielders on such agile & like machines diving around ...Can Dilhara do it ?? Hope there will be some amazing finds from this tour to be picked up for our WC T20 squad !! With Indian top four is such an amazing form, hope our cricketers will plot strategies to get them out as early as possible otherwise be sorry . This tour is crucial for SL, to judge where they will be in months time in the WC in the same, Play your game hard boys !!! bring Glory & smiles to our faces with Lion our heads high !!

  • charith on February 1, 2016, 13:00 GMT

    y not eranga....he is good blower. thirimanna also good option to have

  • chethana on January 31, 2016, 16:40 GMT

    MALINGA & KULASEKERA will be the 1st 2 options as fast bowlers for the WC although KULE will not be a big threat in these INDIAN flat decks. But he will be selected as an all rounder for no.8 position considering his batting ability & death bowling. other than these 2 fast bowlers LAKMAL,PRASAD,ERANGA,PRADEEP are the next best options. But any one of them have not been selected. It is something to be surprised. PRADEEP injured. LAKMAL was struggled against NZ. don't know about PRASAD current situation. ERANGA is ok. but he has not been selected. instead of these 4 they have selected 4 interesting choices. CHAMEERA is 145+ kph bowler. come back man DILHARA also has some extra pace & experience. debutant KASUN RAJITHA known as a bowler who has good control. & BINURA 6.7 foot tall left arm swing bowler. among spinners HERATH,AJANTHA,DILRUWAN have not been selected. instead of them SACHITHRA,VANDERSAY,SEEKUGE have been selected. 2 of them are leg spinners.

  • chethana on January 31, 2016, 12:34 GMT

    where is CHANAKA WELEGEDERA? he is a left arm fast bowler. Has lot of experience & good T20 bowler. few years ago he was our premiere test fast bowler before DAMMIKA PRASAD. still he has not retired. for a world tournament you need experience options. BINURA is someone for future. Also WELE has a domestic T20 world record. SL have decent fast bowling options. should select best among them. MALINGA,KULASEKERA,CHAMEERA,DAMMIKA,DILHARA,WELEGEDERA,BINURA, LAKMAL,PRADEEP,ERANGA ,RAJITHA...etc

  • Ashan N Silva on January 31, 2016, 10:29 GMT

    it's good to have changes. there should be a left armer like vass. what happend to welagedara, thushara? why they cut kule? other thing is batting order. if kapu playing he should bat higher. he is not only a hitter. Thisara must be a finisher. i dont no why ajantha mendis not in this side

  • chethana on January 31, 2016, 8:34 GMT


  • sajan on January 30, 2016, 23:46 GMT

    Leading runs scorers ( Dananjaya-Runs 171(SR135) ave 57.45, Thirimanna- Runs 136(SR 133) ave 45.33 ,Ashan- Runs 132 Ave 132.00(SR 136), Milantha Runs 119 Ave 59.50(SR 177) not Selected But Kapugedara- Runs 67 Ave 22.33(SR 117) Selected for National Team.

    Leading Wicket taker Shameera Eranga 15 overs 124 runs 7 wickets not in the squad but DIlhara in the squad. This clearly shows the knowledge of selection committee. Good luck Sri Lankan Cricket.

  • Anura on January 30, 2016, 12:21 GMT

    How did he get in with the figures below in the current T20 super tournament. Player Mat Inns Overs Mdns Runs Wkts BBI Ave Econ SR 4 5 CRD Fernando 2 2 6.5 0 86 0 12.58 - 0 0 (Kandy Crusaders)

  • raveen on January 30, 2016, 12:20 GMT

    squad looks good except for below club level chandimal...

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