Maheesh Theekshana, who has played just one T20I, was included in Sri Lanka’s 15-member squad for the T20 World Cup to be held in the UAE and Oman from October 17 to November 14.
Meanwhile, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Kumara, Pulina Tharanga and Binura Fernando have been selected as just reserves, while Pathum Nissanka, Ramesh Mendis and Minod Bhanuka have been dropped. This comes as a big surprise since all seven were part of Sri Lanka’s squad for the ongoing limited overs series against South Africa.
Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella are serving bans for violationg COVID-19 protocols. On the other hand, Angelo Mathews isn’t a part of Sri Lanka’s contract list and was unavailable for selection.
Although the ICC deadline for the naming of the World Cup squads was September 10, Sri Lanka Cricket officially named its squad two days later because it was waiting for the sports minister’s approval. Sri Lanka teams must be signed off by the minister, by law.
Theekshana, who bowls the carrom ball and googly alongside off-spin, bagged a four-for on his ODI debut versus South Africa in Colombo. He also took a wicket in the lone T20I he has played against South Africa. The 21-year-old has also played 23 T20s, snaring 22 scalps at an impressive average of 20.86. His best figures of 2 for 9 came versus Sri Lanka Navy Sports Club in the Sri Lanka Cricket T20 tournament in March this year.
Bhanuka Rajapksa and Kamindu Mendis have also made it to the squad. Rajapaksa, the top-order batsman, has played only eight T20Is for his country, with his 48-ball 77 in Lahore versus Pakistan in 2019 being the best of his short career so far. He was a star batter on the school circuit over a decade ago and has an unremarkable domestic record. Kamindu, who has played four T20Is, is known for his skills as an all-rounder. Incidentally, Mendis can bowl both off-spin and slow left-arm orthodox. Praveen Jayawickrama, who has not even made debut in T20Is, has also been selected. The left-arm spinner, however, bagged 11 wicket in the only Test he has played against Bangladesh. He has also earned five ODIs caps.
Sri Lanka will start their T20 World Cup campaign with a match against Namibia in Group A of the first round on October 18 in Abu Dhabi.
Sri Lanka squad: Dasun Shanaka (C), Dhananjaya De Silva, Kusal Janith Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Avishka Fernando, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Kamindu Mendis, Chamika Karunaratne, Nuwan Pradeep, Dushmantha Chameera, Praveen Jayawickrema, Lahiru Madushanka, Maheesh Theekshana
Reserves: Lahiru Kumara, Binura Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Pulina Tharanga