Sri Lanka T20 World Cup 2021 squad – Nissanka Dananjaya Kumara Binura added | Cricket

Akila Dananjaya has picked up just six wickets at an average of 48.16 in nine T20Is in 2021 © AFP/Getty Images

Sri Lanka have finalised their 15-member squad for the T20I World Cup in Oman and the UAE starting later this month, making four changes to the one they had announced a month prior. The injured Lahiru Madushanka and Nuwan Pradeep, and the pair of Praveen Jayawickrama and Kamindu Mendis have made way, replaced by Pathum Nissanka, Akila Dananjaya, Lahiru Kumara and Binura Fernando.

Offspinner Dananjaya was an integral part of Sri Lanka’s T20 set up a few years ago, his array of variations seeing him regularly called upon to bowl in the powerplay period. However, he’s been a shadow of his former self ever since remodeling his action; in nine T20Is in 2021, he has picked up just six wickets at an average of 48.16 – by far the least effective year in his career.

That said, it is likely Sri Lanka have chosen Dananjaya for his experience. While the team’s spin contingent is spearheaded by Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana has just three T20Is under his belt. With Jayawickrama also relatively untested at the highest level, any injury to Hasaranga would have left Sri Lanka very light on spinners with big-game experience.

© ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Nissanka was among the five players added to the squad ten days ago. His inclusion meanwhile, will leave the player missing out – Kamindu Mendis – feeling possibly a little hard done by. Despite having failed to impress in his limited international forays, Mendis was the second-highest scorer in the recent SLC Invitational T20 tournament. He is also a former Under-19 captain and his ambidexterity allows him to bowl with either hand. The other four who were named then – Minod Bhanuka, Ashen Bandara, Lakshan Sandakan and Ramesh Mendis – did not make the cut.

What Nissanka – who is thought of highly by coaching staff – does offer however is a steadying presence in what has proved to be a very unsteady batting line-up in recent times, even if he has yet to make his mark in white-ball cricket.

The rest of the changes are like for like, with the pace pairing of Kumara and Binura replacing the injured Pradeep and Madushanka. While Madushanka’s unavailability had been known for a while, Pradeep’s was a tough blow with the seamer picking up a hamstring injury in the first T20 against Oman, subsequently ruling him out for four weeks.

In his place, the 6ft7in Binura, who has long been on the fringes of Sri Lankan squads, will be hoping to finally make his mark with the national side, though it is in the returning Kumara who Sri Lanka will be pinning a lot of their hopes. In Kumara, and the outstanding Dushmantha Chameera, Sri Lanka have two bowlers capable of hitting express speeds, and if the team is to succeed at the T20 World Cup much will depend on their continued fitness.

Sri Lanka’s batting will be headed up by captain Kusal Perera, who is just returning from injury. He will lead a line-up containing a blend of youth and experience, with the likes of Dhananjaya de Silva and former captains Dinesh Chandimal and Dasun Shanaka accompanying the more youthful Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Nissanka, and the explosive Chamika Karunaratne.

Sri Lanka will begin their T20 World Cup campaign with a qualifying match against Namibia on October 18, before facing Ireland and Netherlands in two further qualifiers on October 20 and 22.

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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