Feb 28, 2017

Rangana to lead during B'desh Tests

Rangana Herath will captain Sri Lanka in the Tests against Bangladesh, while prolific domestic left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara joins him in the squad, Sri Lanka Cricket has announced.

These are the only squad details released so far, however. It is likely the remainder of the squad has not been picked yet - an earlier release stated the selectors were not due to meet until Tuesday.

Though Dinesh Chandimal and Upul Tharanga may have been considered for the captaincy in Angelo Mathews' absence, Herath always seemed the frontrunner for the position. He had led Sri Lanka to a 2-0 series victory in Zimbabwe in October and November. He took 19 wickets in the series at an average of 15.10.

Pushpakumara, 29, has been consistently impressive in first-class cricket, and it is possible he has only been omitted from Sri Lanka's Test squads for so long because Herath already fills the left-arm orthodox role in the side. However, Pushpakumara's match-winning 13 for 205 for Sri Lanka A against England Lions this past weekend has finally earned him a Test call-up. All told, he has 558 first-class wickets at an average of 19.85, and is routinely among the top three wicket-takers in the Premier League Tournament.

"Slow left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara has been included in the test squad," the SLC release said. "Pushpakumara first represented the Sri Lanka A team in 2012 when he faced South Africa and Zimbabwe during a triangular tournament and made an appearance for the Sri Lanka A team in 2015 against Pakistan." He has 29 first-class wickets at 26.17 for Sri Lanka A.

The presence of the two left-arm orthodox spinners may put left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan's place in doubt.

The first of Sri Lanka's two Tests against Bangladesh begins on March 7 in Galle.