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Karunaratne makes a comeback as Sri Lanka build for ODI World Cup

Opening batter is part of a squad due to play three matches against Afghanistan starting June 2

Dimuth Karunaratne goes through the off side, Sri Lanka v West Indies, 1st ODI, Colombo (SSC), February 22, 2020

Dimuth Karunaratne played his last ODI in March 2021  •  Associated Press

Opening batter Dimuth Karunaratne has been recalled to Sri Lanka's ODI squad, more than two years after he last played a 50-over game in international cricket. Also returning is fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera, who had missed the New Zealand tour in March 2023 after undergoing ankle surgery.
Legspinning allrounder Dushan Hemantha is the only uncapped player in the 16-man squad to face Afghanistan in three ODIs, starting on Friday. There was no room for left-arm spinning allrounder Dunith Wellalage however, while wicketkeeper Kusal Perera is out with a hamstring injury.
Karunaratne's presence is an indication that the selectors are once again set to fall back on his experience in a World Cup year, after he'd led Sri Lanka in the 2019 edition. They had also recalled Angelo Mathews earlier in the year, and have consistently had Dhananjaya de Silva in the middle order as well. Karunaratne may be poised to open alongside Pathum Nissanka. Nuwanidu Fernando, who had opened the batting in New Zealand, was not picked for this series.
Hemantha, 29, is something of a surprise selection. He had not been especially impressive with the bat in this year's National Super League - Sri Lanka's most competitive List A tournament. But he had been good with the ball, taking 13 wickets at an average of 23.61 across eight matches. It is possible he is there as cover for Wanindu Hasaranga, who is "currently undergoing rehabilitation for a foot injury" according the Sri Lanka Criket release. The only other frontline spinner in the squad is Maheesh Theekshana.
The seam attack appears especially strong after the return of Chameera, with Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha, and Matheesha Pathirana in the squad. Pathirana is fresh from a strong showing as an impact player in the IPL, but has never played an ODI. Allrounder Chamika Karunaratne is another seam-bowling option.
The batting line-up is fairly predictable. Kusal Mendis likely to take the gloves and bat at No. 3, with the likes of Charith Asalanka, Mathews, and de Silva to make up the middle order. Sadeera Samarawickrama, who recently made a maiden Test hundred against Ireland, has been picked for these matches as well, though he's not played an ODI since 2019.
Each of the three matches will be played at Hambantota. For Afghanistan, it will be part of their lead-up to the World Cup, having already qualified for the marquee event. Sri Lanka, meanwhile, are yet to seal their place. They must play the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe next month; these matches will serve as preparation.
Sri Lanka ODI squad: Dasun Shanaka (capt.), Kusal Mendis (wk), Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushan Hemantha, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana, Maheesh Theekshana

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