Malinga makes a return
Fast bowler Lasith Malinga has been named in the 16-member Sri Lanka squad for the three-Test series against India beginning on July 18, setting him up for a return to Tests after two-and-a-half years. However, there was no place for spinner Ajantha Mendis, who tormented India during their previous Test visit two years ago.
Malinga played his last Test against England at Galle in 2007 before a knee injury laid him low and forced him out of cricket for nine months. Malinga was cured by Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse's personal physician Dr Eliyantha White and since then his appearances for his country has been only in limited-over internationals and in Twenty20 Internationals.
Malinga's return to Test cricket was slow because the team physio did not want to push him too early to play in the longer version of the game. However selection committee sources stated that they had got the greenlight from physio Tommy Simsek who has been monitoring Malinga's progress carefully that he was now fully fit to play in a five-day Test match.
"Malinga has nine more days before the first Test against India and we are confident he will be fit to play. He has been bowling long spells at the nets and has shown no side effects," a selection committee source said. Since making his Test debut against Australia at Darwin in 2004, Malinga has played in 28 Tests and captured 91 wickets.The other members of the fast-bowling department are Dilhara Fernando, Chanaka Welegedara and Dammika Prasad.
Offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan who is due to retire at the end of Galle Test has also been named in the squad along with left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and young off-spinner Suraj Randiv who is likely to take Muralitharan's place for the rest of the series. Mendis, who became a star with 26 wickets in three Tests against India when they visited in 2008, was left out.
The Sri Lanka Board President's team to take on India in a three-day practice match ahead of the Tests was also named. Thilan Samaraweera will lead the side which includes first-choice Test keeper Prasanna Jayawardene and promising batsmen Lahiru Thirimanne, Ashan Priyanjan and Dinesh Chandimal.
Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Muttiah Muralitharan (vc), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Tharanga Paranavitana, Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Angelo Mathews, Prasanna Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Dilhara Fernando, Dammika Prasad, Suraj Randiv, Thilina Kandamby, Chanaka Welegedara, Lahiru Thirimanne.