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Uncapped Sri Lankan fast bowler Nuwan Thushara has tested positive for Covid-19, and his participation in Sri Lanka's upcoming T20I tour of Australia has been put in doubt as a result. Dilshan Fonseka, the team's trainer, has also tested positive and, like Thushara, is "currently undergoing covid-19 protocols", according to a Sri Lanka Cricket statement*.
Though the update about Thushara has just come to light, ESPNcricinfo understands that he had returned a positive result six days ago. His second RT-PCR test is scheduled for Tuesday, the seventh day from the initial test, but with the team set to fly out on February 3, SLC and its medical team will have to decide whether Thushara can travel with the rest of the squad or not.
According to the head of SLC's medical department, Prof Arjuna de Silva, even in the event of a negative test on Tuesday, Thushara would need to undergo further tests before getting clearance to play.
"We haven't still decided on that [his inclusion in the travelling party]," de Silva said. "Generally, under normal protocol, we do a cardiac and lung assessment [prior to clearing a player]. If we send him with the team, assuming his second PCR comes back negative, we will then have to assess him in Australia before he plays."
de Silva, though was optimistic of Thushara's inclusion, with the 27-year-old currently asymptomatic, and also confirmed that no-one else from the travelling party had been in close contact with Thushara, who had picked up 12 wickets in eight games for Galle Gladiators in the recent Lanka Premier League.
The quick with the slingy action has, unsurprisingly, been compared with Lasith Malinga, who was recently hired by SLC as a bowling strategy coach for the tour of Australia. The squad has a number of other fast-bolwing options: Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara, Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando and Shiran Fernando. Nuwan Pradeep was not picked for the tour.
Sri Lanka are scheduled to play five T20Is in Australia from February 11-20, with the first two games in Sydney before the action moves to Canberra and then Melbourne.
* The story was updated after Sri Lanka Cricket sent out a media statement.