With the Champions Trophy now underway, Team Cricket at ThePapare.com made their pick for Sri Lanka’s starting XI in the tournament.

Damith Weerasinghe’s XI

  1. Upul Tharanga ©
  2. Niroshan Dickwella
  3. Kusal Mendis
  4. Dinesh Chandimal
  5. Asela Gunaratne
  6. Chamara Kapugedara
  7. Thisara Perera
  8. Seekuge Prasanna
  9. Nuwan Kulasekara
  10. Lasith Malinga
  11. Lakshan Sandaken

Thisara Perera makes it into the playing XI on the back of Mathews likely to be unavailable. No doubt the loss of Mathews has meant that the makeup of the team has had to be rethought completely.

Lakshan Sandakan and Seekuge Prasanna are in the XI ahead of a seamer like Nuwan Pradeep to target the Proteas with spin and Sandakan in particular will be the one Sri Lanka looks to make inroads into a strong Protea batting line-up.

Suranga Lakmal, Sri Lanka’s spearhead in Test cricket is unlucky to miss out, however, there is no way I could leave out Nuwan Kulasekara who brings with him bucket-loads of experience and skill bowling in the death.

Romario De Silva’s XI

  1. Upul Tharanga ©
  2. Niroshan Dickwella
  3. Kusal Mendis
  4. Dinesh Chandimal
  5. Chamara Kapugedara
  6. Asela Gunaratne
  7. Thisara Perera
  8. Seekuge Prasanna
  9. Nuwan Kulasekara
  10. Lasith Malinga
  11. Lakshan Sandaken

With regular Captain Angelo Mathews a doubtful starter for the first game against South Africa on Saturday, the Sri Lankan’s will be missing out on a key player who can contribute with both bat and ball.

5 top batsman along with 3 all-rounders and 3 bowlers seem to be the way forward due to the loss of captain Angelo Mathews.

Thisara Perera should start in place of Suranga Lakmal as an all-rounder to compensate for the loss of Mathews while two spinning options (Prasanna and Sandakan) seem to be the need of the hour as Bangladesh missed an extra spinner against England, having left out Mehedi Hassan.  

Shameera Weerasinghe’s XI

  1. Upul Tharanga ©
  2. Niroshan Dickwella
  3. Kusal Mendis
  4. Dinesh Chandimal
  5. Chamara Kapugedara
  6. Asela Gunarathne
  7. Seekuge Prasanna
  8. Thisara Perera   
  9. Lakshan Sandakan
  10. Lasith Malinga
  11. Suranga Lakmal

Sri Lanka will have to make do with six bowlers to complete the 50 overs as none of the top 5 in the batting order is able to roll their arm over. Chamara Kapugedara could be an option with his gentle medium pace as he was used (and thrashed) in the warm-up game against New Zealand. Asela Gunaratne would be the go to man in the first 10 overs if the opening bowlers go for runs.

Due to the absence of Mathews the onus will be on the top 4 to perform with the bat. With the average total being 300 plus the Sri Lankan openers will have to put their hands up and score some big runs if the Lankans are to have any chance in this game.

Roscoe Thattil’s XI

  1. Upul Tharanga ©
  2. Niroshan Dickwella
  3. Kusal Mendis
  4. Dinesh Chandimal
  5. Chamara Kapugedara
  6. Asela Gunaratne
  7. Thisara Perera
  8. Seekuge Prasanna
  9. Nuwan Kulasekara
  10. Lasith Malinga
  11. Nuwan Pradeep

Might have been tempted to go with Lakshan Sandakan if Angelo Mathews’ was fit but his loss is a massive setback to the batting department (his medium pacers will also be missed badly) and Seekuge will definitely add more value to the team in that department to go along with his bowling.

It was a hard choice between Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Kulasekara but the latter gets the nod with tons of experience behind him while Nuwan Pradeep’s performances in the warm up game against Australia earns him a spot.

Estelle Vasudevan’s XI

  1. Upul Tharanga ©
  2. Niroshan Dickwella
  3. Kusal Mendis
  4. Dinesh Chandimal
  5. Chamara Kapugedara
  6. Asela Gunaratne
  7. Thisara Perera
  8. Nuwan Kulasekara
  9. Nuwan Pradeep
  10. Lasith Malinga
  11. Lakshan Sandakan

The absence of Angelo Mathews has really thrown a spanner in the works for Sri Lanka as they lose out on perhaps their best batsman as well as a man who could contribute with a few useful overs with the ball.

Sri Lanka will have to believe that the 6 batsmen at the top will get the job done alongside Thisara Perera who could strike a few lusty blows at the back end of the innings. Sri Lanka have no option but to go with a long tail with Kulasekara coming in at No. 8 as there is no way that the South African batting line-up will be restricted if the Lankans do not pick up wickets.

With this in mind I’ve picked Sandakan ahead of Seekuge, hoping that he’d get his act together and hit the right areas and function as Sri Lanka’s wicket-taking option.

Was tempted to go with Suranga Lakmal ahead of either Kulasekara or Pradeep but the former’s experience and death bowling prowess and the latter’s form in the practice matches kept them in the XI.

Asela Gunaratne will have a huge role to play with both bat and ball, particularly if one of the bowlers go for runs.

We’ve picked the teams we think SHOULD play in Sri Lanka’s opening game against South Africa, what do you think?
Comment with your Sri Lanka XI below.