The dice are cast with the much looked to 15-member Sri Lanka World Cup squad announced on Thursday in what interestingly takes on a rehashed outlook. In an apparent new draught of air infused by the national selectors right at the top in opting for virtual new look captaincy material in anointing left hand opening batsman Dimuth Karunaratne to wear the leadership mantle, several players such as Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeewan Mendis, Avishka Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay and Milinda Siriwardana have replaced regular campaigners such as wicket-keeper batsmen Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella, and Upul Tharanga, Dhanushka Gunathilaka and Akila Dananjaya.
Placing faith on Karunaratne’s to lead carries the double edged success of bringing down the South Africans in the recent Test tour and his solidity as an opening batsman. In whatever form of cricket, calculated run grafting is a defining element right up front and his balmy influence could be decisive in plugging the batting department. The recall of 29-year old Thirimanne as the apparent choice to pair off with the skipper in the wake of a forceful batting performance in the Super Provincial Tournament sees a total overhaul in the opening slots with 21-year old all-rounder Avishka Fernando also a stakeholder.
Meanwhile, the return of Kusal Janith Perera possibly to man the pivotal No.3 slot does lend a formidable infusion. He has proved to be a big stage showman for his willow work in thick and thin with the innovative Kusal Mendis and seasoned campaigner Angelo Mathews and utility player Dhananjaya de Silva in the pack. Milinda Siriwardena too is an option as a batting all-rounder and part time spinner. The selectors have retained faith in hard hitting medium pace all-rounder Thisara Perera despite a lackluster performance in the Super Provincial Tournament except for his 4 for 25, going on his prowess as a campaigner who has delivered on the big stage with both bat and ball. Besides him, the pace bowling department consists of the inform Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and Isuru Udana who has proved his worth as a late order pinch hitter while Nuwan Pradeep’s past ODI credentials has literally influenced his inclusion. The spin department has also undergone an overhaul with Akila Dananjaya failing to find a place and 00the inclusion of old stager 36-year old Jeewan Mendis on splendid all-round potential displayed in the mega local tournament as well as Jeffrey Vandersay on some creditable performances with the ball.
Dimuth Karunaratne – Captain
Kusal Janith Perera
Dhananjaya De Silva
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-
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