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Just a day out from the first ODI, Sri Lanka have finally announced a 15-man squad for their three-match home series against Afghanistan. Four inclusions have been made to the squad that squared off against Australia earlier this year, with Dhananjaya Lakshan, Kasun Rajitha, Ashen Bandara and Lahiru Kumara earning recalls.
This means there's no room for Chamika Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Nuwan Thushara, Ramesh Mendis, Praveen Jayawickrama, Jeffrey Vandersay and Lahiru Madushanka. Pace spearhead Dushmantha Chameera meanwhile misses out having undergone surgery in Australia recently over a long-term injury issue.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa - who had initially been included in the squad - requested his release in order to take a break from ODI cricket.
The delayed squad announcement stemmed from the country's sports minister refusing to ratify it - a requirement under Sri Lanka's sports regulations - until an explanation was provided over the dropping of Karunaratne.
Karunaratne has since been handed a one-year suspended ban for breaching Sri Lanka's player agreement during the T20 World Cup in Australia. His omission from the squad followed a string of underwhelming performances in T20Is this year, though he had received two Player-of-the-Match awards during the ODI leg of the Australia series.
Lakshan has been included as a like-for-like replacement for Karunaratne. The 24-year-old seam bowling allrounder has been in good form with the bat recently in Sri Lanka's first-class setup, having broken into the circuit initially during the inaugural edition of the LPL in 2020 with some impressive performances with both bat and ball. He will no doubt be hoping to stake a claim for a more permanent spot in Sri Lanka's white-ball sides.
Another player to keep an eye on will be young Dunith Wellalage, who had put in some promising all-round performances against Australia earlier this year.
The in-form Kusal Mendis, meanwhile, will head up a batting unit that also includes Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Ashen Bandara and skipper Dasun Shanaka.
Wanindu Hasaranga, who is also capable with the bat, and Maheesh Theekshana, will lead the spin-bowling contingent, with the likes of Wellalage and de Silva offering support when needed.
Kumara, Rajitha, Pramod Madushan and Asitha Fernando will comprise the pace attack, with Shanaka and Lakshan providing part-time options.
Squad: Dasun Shanaka (capt), Pathum Nissanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Charith Asalanka, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dunith Wellalage, Dananjaya Lakshan, Kasun Rajitha, Maheesh Theekshana, Pramod Madushan, Asitha Fernando, Ashen Bandara, Lahiru Kumara