Sri Lanka‘s dalliance with Angelo Mathews in ODIs appears to have ended abruptly as the veteran cricketer has been excluded from the 15-man squad set to travel to Zimbabwe for the World Cup Qualifier later this month. Mathews, who made a comeback to the ODI side for Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand after a two-year absence, had hoped for a World Cup swansong.
Following a series of underwhelming performances, scoring 18, 0, and 12 since his return, Angelo Matthews was dropped from the playing XI before the second ODI against Afghanistan last week. The replacement for Mathews in that match, Sadeera Samarawickrama, impressed with a quickfire 44, securing his place in the third ODI.
SriLanka’s World Cup Qualifier Selection
Consequently, Angelo Mathews, with 221 ODIs under his belt, now appears unlikely to add to that number. While Mathews’ recall for the Afghanistan series, along with Dimuth Karunaratne’s, indicated a shift towards experience in this World Cup year, Karunaratne’s retention for the World Cup Qualifier suggests he remains in the selectors’ plans. The 35-year-old justified his place by scoring consecutive fifties upon his return to the ODI side, helping Sri Lanka secure a win against Afghanistan.
The rest of the squad consists of few surprises, with the batting unit featuring the likes of Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Dhananjaya de Silva, and Samarawickrama. Chamika Karunaratne, Shanaka, and Wanindu Hasaranga fill the all-rounder slots, with Hasaranga also leading the spin department, joined by Maheesh Theekshana and leg-spinner Dushan Hemantha.
Sri Lanka’s seam department holds its trump cards, albeit with some fragility. Dushmantha Chameera, who made an impressive return after a ten-month absence during the Afghanistan series, leads the department, but his workload requires careful management. The same goes for Lahiru Kumara, who possesses express pace but often struggles to complete his spells due to persistent injuries.
The young and exciting Matheesha Pathirana, known for his 145kph slinging yorkers, has also earned a spot in the squad, having made an impact in the IPL earlier this year.
With the World Cup Qualifier on the horizon, Sri Lanka aims to field a competitive squad that can secure a spot in the main tournament. While Mathews’ omission raises eyebrows, the team will rely on the experience of Karunaratne and the talented group of players selected to pave the way to success.
Sri Lanka’s squad for World Cup Qualifier:
Dasun Shanaka (capt), Kusal Mendis (wk), Dimuth Karunaratne, Dhananjaya de Silva, Pathum Nissanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushan Hemantha, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Charith Asalanka, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Matheesha Pathirana, Maheesh Theekshana