The inclusion of veteran 32-year old batsman Angelo Mathews in the Sri Lanka T20 squad for a 3-match tour of India starting tomorrow January 5 is viewed as a step by the national selectors to add strength to the top order batting department. While most of the specialist batsmen are prone for shot making with the exception of Dhananjaya de Silva’s cool technically sound approach, former captain Mathews is looked upon as a lynchpin in so much as a steadying influence in adding depth down the line.
Mathews played his last T20 international against South Africa in August 2018 when he led Sri Lanka to a three-wicket victory but fell for a duck. Having lost his way in the short version of the game when he was dropped following Sri Lanka’s first round exit in last year’s Asia Cup, Mathews was recalled for ODI duty for the 2019 World Cup when he produced a century, but was not consistently among the runs as Sri Lanka exited without making an impact. He is said to have battled injury to a thigh muscle which has plagued his career and has reportedly fully recovered and a fully fit Mathews could be quite an asset to Sri Lanka when it comes to matching the strong Indians.
Sri Lanka is skippered by seasoned toe crushing fast bowler Lasith Malinga and has some interesting names in the squad including the hard hitting opener Dhanushka Gunathilaka who has proved that when in full flight he is a big scorer right up front. It is rather lamentable that Gunathilaka has not got that much of assertion of permanency in the team which is a confidence boosting factor that could have brought out the best from the left hander.
Meanwhile, the presence of free scoring Kusal Janith Perera is a plus factor while the inform Bhanuka Rajapaksaalso deserves the necessary encouragement in top flight cricket.
Sri Lanka squad: Lasith Malinga (captain), Danushka Gunathilaka, Avishka Fernando, Angelo Mathews, Dasun Shanaka, Kusal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Isuru Udana, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Oshada Fernando, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Kusal Mendis, Lakshan Sandakan and Kasun Rajith
THE TOUR SCHEDULE:
1st T20I – 5 January (Sunday) – Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati
2nd T20I – 7 January (Tuesday) – Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
3rd T20I – 10 January (Friday) – MCA Stadium, Pune
By Srian Obeyesekere