Sri Lanka unveils squad for home ODIs against Zimbabwe; Akila Dananjaya returns

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have officially revealed the squad for the upcoming three-match ODI series against Zimbabwe, scheduled to commence on January 06 in Colombo. The announcement, made on Thursday, brings some notable changes to the team, with a new captain to lead the side.

Kusal Mendis to lead as full-time ODI skipper

Wicketkeeper-batter, Kusal Mendis takes on the role of full-time ODI captain for the first time. The decision reflects the confidence of the team management in Mendis’ leadership abilities. He was recently named as the full-time skipper following the resignation of Dasun Shanaka.

New Selection committee implements several changes

Sri Lanka’s new selection committee, in their maiden assignment, has brought about eight changes to the squad compared to the team’s performance in the ODI World Cup 2023, where they finished second-last. The revamped squad aims to strengthen the team’s performance and build a fresh momentum for the upcoming series.

Return of Avishka Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, and Akila Dananjaya

The squad sees the return of Avishka Fernando, Jeffrey Vandersay, and Akila Dananjaya. Their inclusion is expected to bring a new dynamic to the team and address some of the challenges faced in the previous tournament.

Fitness concerns for Wanindu Hasaranga

While Wanindu Hasaranga has been recalled, his availability for the series is contingent on his fitness, as he is still recovering from hamstring surgery. The spin-bowling all-rounder is likely to miss the initial two ODIs, and in his absence, Maheesh Theekshana will lead the spin-bowling unit.

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Vandersay and Dananjaya bolster spin-bowling stocks

The selectors highlight the strategic inclusion of Vandersay and Dananjaya, both of whom bring valuable spin-bowling skills to the team. Vandersay, who last played an ODI in January 2023, and Dananjaya, absent since 2021, aim to provide additional options and support to the spin department.

Ajantha Mendis, former spinner and current selector, emphasized the importance of Dananjaya’s recent wicket-taking form and the need for contingency plans in spin-bowling. In an official statement, Ajantha said: “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.”

Sri Lanka ODI squad for Zimbabwe series:

Kusal Mendis (captain), 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)

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