Sri Lanka have left Lahiru Thirimanne out of their Test squad to play England, and Kusal Perera has been included in his place despite a finger injury leaving him doubtful for the first game of the two-match series.
Wanindu Hasaranga was named as the 16th member of the squad, but with an addendum that his left hamstring injury would not allow him to take part in the series. A replacement is expected to be picked before the first Test.
There are three specialist spinners already in the squad however – with offspinner Dilruwan Perera, left-arm spinner Lasith Embudleniya and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan all in the 15. Dhananjaya de Silva is around to bowl some offspin as well. There are four specialist seam-bowlers: Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha and left-armer Vishwa Fernando.
This surfeit of bowlers means there is only room for one spare batsman – Kusal Perera – in addition to the top seven that played Sri Lanka’s most-recent Test in Harare.
Thirimanne is the only omission from the squad that won 1-0 in Zimbabwe in January. He did not play any part in that series, and last played in the series against New Zealand in August 2019.
Perera had been left out for the tour of Zimbabwe earlier this year. That completed a strange year for him in the format, after he had played one of the great Test innings of all time in Durban in February 2019, but totalled just 44 runs in three Tests after that, including bagging a pair in Colombo against New Zealand in August in what was his last Test appearance.
He was in the squad for the December Test tour of Pakistan, but didn’t get a game, and chief selector Asantha de Mel confirmed while announcing the squad for Zimbabwe that Perera had been dropped after consultation with coach Mickey Arthur, who felt it was better for the wicketkeeper-batsman to remain in Sri Lanka and train for the white-ball series against West Indies, rather than tour Zimbabwe and not get a game.
England play two Tests, the first starting in Galle on March 19. They had won each of the three Tests on their last tour of Sri Lanka, in late 2018.
Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (capt), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Dilruwan Perera, Lasith Embuldeniya, Lahiru Kumara, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Wanindu Hasaranga (injured, replacement to be named before first Test)