Also omitted are batsman Kusal Mendis, after an extended run of poor scores in the format, and fast bowler Suranga Lakmal. There is no place for left-arm spinning allrounder Shehan Jayasuriya, or offspinner Dilruwan Perera either.
In the squad, however, is fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep, who returns following another of his long injury layoffs, and wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella, who had been left out of the original squad for the Asia Cup.
Mathews has been dropped despite having Sri Lanka’s best ODI average over the past two years (out of batsmen who have scored more than 500 runs in that period), with coach Chandika Hathurusingha indicating that it was Mathews’ poor running between wickets that has played a substantial role in his losing his place. In Sri Lanka’s two matches in the Asia Cup, Mathews played a role in running out two of his partners – one in each game. Hathurusingha and the selectors contend that Mathews lacks the “cricket fitness” to field for 50 overs, then run between the wickets effectively. Essentially the argument is that Mathews puts unfair pressure on teammates, and frequently runs them out.
Sri Lanka have what is perhaps their first-choice fast-bowling unit for the series – a rare event considering the frequency of injuries to Sri Lanka quicks over the past few years. Pradeep had been growing into an effective limited-overs bowler before he was injured, and Chameera has been among the more economical Sri Lanka bowlers on the occasions he has played. Lahiru Kumara’s availability, however, is contingent on his full recovery from an ongoing injury.
Sri Lanka squad: Dinesh Chandimal (capt), Upul Tharanga, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Niroshan Dickwella, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Dushmantha Chameera, Lasith Malinga, Amila Aponso, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha
Stand-bys: Shehan Madushanka, Kusal Mendis, Dimuth Karunaratne, Suranga Lakmal, Jeffrey Vandersay