Sri Lanka have been dealt a severe blow with off-spinner Akila Dananjaya withdrawing from the first leg of the six nation Asia Cup tournament due to personal reasons. The 24-year-old has been Sri Lanka’s main match winner in shorter formats of the game and in his last ODI claimed career best figures of six for 29 against South Africa.
by Rex Clementine
“Akila Dananjaya although he is in the squad, he will not travel with the team as his wife is expected to give birth to their first child between the 15Th and 17th of September,” Chairman of Selectors Graeme Labrooy told The Island.
“It is crucial that we have an off-spinner. That’s why we have brought in Dilruwan Perera. He has been on top of his game with bat and ball. We will put him in the big league and see how he fares although Akila is our number one spinner in shorter formats of the game. This is the reason why we have named 16 players in the squad instead of 15,” Labrooy added.
Dananjaya is expected to join the squad soon after the birth of his child. Sri Lanka, who are pooled alongisde Bangladesh and Afghanistan, will play the curtain-raiser of the tournament taking on Bangladesh on the 15th September followed by the game against Afghanistan on the 17th September. Hence, Dananjaya will miss at least the two opening round clashes. Only the top two teams from each group qualify for the Super Four stage of the competition.
Wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Chandimal is also racing against time to be fit for the regional tournament. The 28-year-old sustained a hairline fracture on the middle finger of his right hand while attempting a catch during the SLC T-20 Super League. Chandimal missed yesterday’s final between Colombo and Dambulla due to the injury.
Sri Lanka’s national cricket selectors has recalled fast…
“We will have an idea about Chandimal’s progress by next week. We will make a call then as Niroshan Dickwella is on standby.”
Dickwella was a surprise omission from the Asia Cup squad but Labrooy said that the selectors wanted consistency from the 25-year-old. “When we selected the squad, for the first time after a long time, all batsmen were available. We could not fit Dickwella in the squad. His consistency also has been questionable. But injury to Chandimal could change the equation again,” Labrooy said.
Sri Lanka resume training ahead of the Asia Cup on Wednesday (5th September).