Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews return for first Test against New Zealand
Three frontline spinners - Lasith Embuldeniya, Lakshan Sandakan and Akila Dananjaya - have been named in the 15-man party
Former captain Dinesh Chandimal has been recalled to Sri Lanka's squad for the first Test against New Zealand in Galle from August 14, after being left out of the tour of South Africa earlier this year and then the World Cup because of poor form.
Niroshan Dickwella, the wicketkeeper-batsman who was the vice-captain on that tour of South Africa, where Sri Lanka scripted a remarkable 2-0 series win, was named in the squad too after missing the World Cup, following a run of consistent scores for Sri Lanka A on their tour of India in June. He was only one of two visiting batsman to score a century in the four-day matches and the second-highest run-getter for Sri Lanka A in the one-day series that followed.
Angelo Mathews, who had missed the Tests against South Africa with a hamstring issue, was also picked following an injury-free run through the summer. Mathews featured in the World Cup, where he even bowled a bit after a long gap, and was then named Player of the Series when Sri Lanka swept Bangladesh 3-0 in an ODI series at home recently.
The Dimuth Karunaratne-led 15-member squad, pruned from a list of 22 named on Wednesday, has three spinners. Lasith Embuldeniya, the left-arm orthodox spinner, Lakshan Sandakan, the left-arm wristspinner, and Akila Dananjaya, the mystery spinner, were all included, having been part of the tour of India. Dhananjaya de Silva is other major spin option, while Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara and Vishwa Fernando form the three-pronged pace attack.
There was no place for offspinning allrounder Dilruwan Perera, who was included in the initial 22-member longlist. Dilruwan, 37, was a Test regular at home briefly along with the now-retired Rangana Herath. He played the last of his 38 Tests in Australia in February, and was overlooked for the South Africa tour later the same month. He is understood to be recovering from injury.
Apart from Dilruwan, Angelo Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando were the others left out from the initial longlist.
Sri Lanka will be under interim head coach Rumesh Ratnayake, who was appointed by Sri Lanka Cricket even as Chandika Hathurusingha continued to be contracted with SLC. While there has been speculation about Hathurusingha's possible sacking and Bangladesh's interest in re-hiring him, he has stayed put, saying that while he has been given a letter by SLC CEO Ashley de Silva, he hasn't been informed of the termination of his services.
The first Test of the two-match series is the first ICC World Test Championship fixture for both Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Janith Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya De Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Embuldeniya, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Oshada Fernando, Lakshan Sandakan, Vishwa Fernando