COLOMBO: Sri Lankan cricket team suffers a major setback as their opening batsman Dhanushka Gunathilaka suffered a back injury and was ruled out of the upcoming Asian Cup tournament on Thursday, dealing a major blow to the islanders.
Sri Lanka Cricket said the 27-year-old left-hand bat will return home from Dubai where he suffered a lower-back injury during practice. The tournament opens on Saturday in Dubai.
He will be replaced by left-hand bat Shehan Jayasuriya, 27.
On Monday, Sri Lanka’s Test captain Dinesh Chandimal was withdrawn from the 16-member squad after he injured a finger during a domestic T20 match.
Chandimal, who was widely expected to be an integral part of the Sri Lankan side in UAE, is likely to miss the Asia Cup completely as he recovers from the hairline fracture he suffered during Sri Lanka’s domestic T20 tournament where he featured for Colombo.
Chandimal will likely be replaced by Niroshan Dickwella who is on standby after missing out on the initial squad. Dickwella was also dropped for the one-off T20 against South Africa at home last month when Chandimal had returned from the ICC-imposed spirit-of-cricket suspension.
Sri Lanka will face Bangladesh in the tournament opener on September 15, with their next game set for September 17 against Afghanistan. The absence of Dananjaya is particularly a blow, with the offspinner being among Sri Lanka’s main threats in the shorter formats of the game, having also regularly taken up new-ball duties in the crucial Powerplay period.
With the top two teams from each groups of three making it through to the Super Four stage, the truncated nature of the tournament leaves little margin for error and Sri Lanka will be hoping the offspin of Dilruwan Perera and the return of Lasith Malinga will help offset Dananjaya’s unavailability.
Sri Lankan squad for Asia Cup
Angelo Mathews (captain), Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Shehan Jayasuriya, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Dhanajaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Dilruwan Perera, Amila Aponso, Kasun Rajitha, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera and Lasith Malinga.