With some surprise, Sri Lanka have recalled the trio of Avishka Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay and Akila Dananjaya to the 15-man squad for the upcoming ODIs against Zimbabwe. Last week, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) announced that Kusal Mendis will be the national team's new full-time skipper at Dasun Shanaka's expense.
In addition to the three aforementioned names, the board have also made eight changes to the squad that finished at the foothill of the 2023 ODI World Cup in India. Kusal Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Dushan Hemantha, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara and Kasun Rajitha have all been axed from the setup while the board stated that there was no room for Chamika Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews either.
The board also stated that Wanindu Hasaranga, Pramod Madushan, Janith Liyanage, Nuwanidu Fernando and Sahan Arachchige have all returned to the squad. One of the biggest names to miss out on a place was the all-rounder de Silva, whose average of 25.90 in 82 innings wasn’t enough for the newly elected selection committee to continue with him.
"We feel Dhananjaya de Silva can perform better in the top three, where he has time to bat longer," chief selector Upul Tharanga said. "We've spoken to him about this as well and told him that even in club matches he should aim to bat in the top order. So if he is to make it back into the side it'll be in the top three."
"In the last couple of seasons Akila Dananjaya has been picking up wickets, and we also need a backup plan for the likes of Maheesh Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga," selector and former Sri Lanka spinner Ajantha Mendis said. "With the next ODI World Cup in 2027 we need to find a way to give players on the fringes more game time. In domestic cricket the opportunity just isn't there to see him tested like he would be internationally."
Sri Lanka ODI squad: Kusal Mendis (capt.), Charith Asalanka, Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Sahan Arachchige, Nuwanidu Fernando, Dasun Shanaka, Janith Liyanage, Maheesh Theekshana, Dilshan Madushanka, Dushmantha Chameera, Dunith Wellalage, Pramod Madushan, Jeffrey Vandersay, Akila Dananjaya, Wanindu Hasaranga (subject to fitness)