Sri Lanka's teenage fast bowler Lahiru Kumara bags Test spot
Lahiru Kumara, the 19-year-old fast bowler, has received a first call-up to the Sri Lankan Test squad to tour Zimbabwe in October. He made his first-class debut this month, and, two matches in, he is set to travel with the seniors to participate in international cricket.
A well-built right-arm seamer from Kandy, Kumara's selection has come on the back of an 11-wicket haul in a Youth Test in Northampton. His 7 for 82 and 4 for 52 were instrumental in England Under-19s suffering their first loss in four-day matches in six years at home. He was also part of the Sri Lankan team at the Under-19 World Cup in February and graduated to the Sri Lanka A team a few weeks ago, picking up three wickets from two first-class matches against West Indies A.
Kumara was among five seam-bowling options that the 15-man squad captained by Angelo Mathews featured, but Suranga Lakmal was the only one with Test-match experience. However, Asela Gunaratne and Lahiru Gamage have played limited-overs cricket for Sri Lanka. The resurfacing of hamstring problems for Nuwan Pradeep and a back injury to Dushmantha Chameera put them out of contention.
Dinesh Chandimal was also not part of the touring party, still recovering from surgery to his thumb, which he had injured during a domestic match in September. In his stead, Niroshan Dickwella has been picked. Although he is a wicketkeeper-batsman, it is perhaps Kusal Perera who will take up the gloves, as he did in their most recent series against Australia - whom they whitewashed 3-0.
Opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne has been retained despite a spell of five single-digit scores, including two ducks, from his last six Test innings. The selectors have kept faith in him after he struck 131 and 68 captaining Sri Lanka A against West Indies A this month.
Sri Lanka have armed themselves with a strong spin attack led by Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera. Left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan would offer them support on his first tour away from home.
The first of two Tests in Zimbabwe - both to be played in Harare - is set to begin on October 29.