Sri Lanka have picked five uncapped players - fast bowler Binura Fernando, legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay and batsmen Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, and Dhananjaya de Silva - in their Twenty20 squad for the forthcoming two-match series against Pakistan.
Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne have not been included while fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara, who was left out for the ongoing ODI series, has been picked. Chamara Kapugedera, who last played a T20 international in June 2012, has also been included in the squad.
"We need to get the younger brigade in the stream, so we have a gradual transition leading up to the next World T20 and the 50-over World Cup beyond that," chief selector Kapila Wijegunawardene said. "We need to put them on the ground and see how they perform."
Fernando, 20, has been a leading cricketer for DS Senanayake College. Though he has played only seven first-class matches, he has been touted as a promising fast bowler, thanks largely to the pace he generates from his six-and-a-half foot frame. Vandersay also has limited domestic experience, but most recently took 8 wickets for 167 in a three-day warm-up match against the Pakistanis, in June.
De Silva and Jayasuriya, both 23, are aggressive opening batsmen who also deliver off spin. Jayasuriya played the the three-match unofficial ODI series against Pakistan A in May, with mixed results. He has, however, been a top performer for Colts Cricket Club. De Silva played in the four-day leg of that tour, and took three wickets and hit 154 runs across five innings. He plays for Ports Authority Cricket Club. Shanaka is not so well-known in the domestic circuit, but Wijegunawardene said the 23-year-old had been picked for his "ability to clear the ropes at will, which is a skill displayed at recent practice matches."
Kapugedara was also recalled thanks to his boundary-hitting capability, but also to lend a touch of experience to the side, Wijegunawardene said. "With all these youngsters coming into the team we also need to balance the team with experience. Kapugedara has not been in the team for a while, but we know he can do that, and we've picked him on that basis." Kapugedara, 28, has played in 21 T20 internationals and 92 ODIs for Sri Lanka.
Wijegunawardene also said the omissions of Chandimal and Thirimanne does not put them out of the running to play in next year's World T20. "Chandimal and Thirimanne needed to prepare for the upcoming India Test series which is a very important one. Offspinner Tharindu Kaushal we are also saving for the Tests. We're trying to manage all their workloads because we have a very busy calendar till July next year." Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera remains unavailable through injury.
Both T20 matches will be played at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, on July 30 and August 1. Sri Lanka remain the top-ranked T20 side in the world - a ranking they have more-or-less held consistently since September 2012.
Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (Capt), TM Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kithruwan Vithanage, Dhananjaya de Silva, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Chamara Kapugedera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Jeffrey Vandersay, Nuwan Kulasekara, Binura Fernando, Chaturanga de Silva, Milinda Siriwardene