Sri Lanka got a major boost ahead of their second game against Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup, when spinner Maheesh Theekshana was deemed fit following a hamstring injury which kept him out for nearly a month.
Reporting from Hyderabad
The 23-year old finger spinner did not feature in the 102-run thrashing handed by South Africa in Delhi as he was yet to fully recover from a hamstring strain which he picked up against Pakistan during the Asia Cup.
In his absence, South Africa posted the highest score of 428 for 5 in 50-over Cricket World Cups at the back of three centuries by Quinton De Kock, Rassie Van Der Dussen and Aiden Markram.
“I think he [Theekshana] should be available for this [Pakistan] game. Obviously, we didn’t want to take a risk with him in the first game and didn’t want to go against the advice of the medical staff so I’m sure he’ll be available for this one,” Naveed Nawaz, Sri Lanka’s Batting Coach, confirmed on the eve of the Pakistan game in Hyderabad.
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With Theekshana set to return to the playing XI, either a fast bowler or left-arm spinner Dunith Wellalage may have to sit out.
With the New Zealand vs Netherlands match being played on Monday at the same venue just a day before the Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, the Team Management is yet to check the playing surface. Therefore, the decision on the playing XI will be taken after taking a closer look of the pitch in the morning of the match.
If Sri Lanka stick to three front-line seamers, Dunith Wellalage, who impressed in the Asia Cup 2023, will not play against Pakistan in Hyderabad. He was taken apart by the Proteas bowlers for 81 runs off the 10 overs.
“Suddenly, due to the loss of Wanindu and Maheesh, Dunith had to take on a lot of responsibilities. He was instantly pushed up as the main bowler in the last couple of games during the Asia Cup, as well as the first game. So, I think he has reacted excellently to that responsibility. He’s done well in a couple of games in the Asia Cup and even on a batting-friendly track in Delhi, I thought he bowled reasonably well,” Nawaz further stated.
The three seamers in left-arm seamer Dilshan Madushanka, right-arm seamer Kasun Rajitha and right-arm slinger Matheesha Pathirana conceded 86, 90 and 95 runs respectively off their full quota of overs in Delhi. If the selectors decide to stick to two front-line spinners, Kasun Rajitha or Dilshan Madushanka may have to sit out for this crucial clash as Sri Lanka chase their first ever victory over Pakistan in Cricket World Cups.