With only nine days left for departure for their short series against Zimbabwe, the Lankan contingent is still afflicted by a series of injury obstacles.
Lankan cricket manager Charith Senanayake put a brave face and said “This is the opportunity for the youngsters to raise their hands and grab the opportunity. It’s bad that we are in this situation, but, at the same time we have to consider it as an opportunity for the fringe players”.
Lankan woes start with captain Angelo Mathews who still convalescing from his calf injury which cut-short his series against Australia. Further, Mathews was hospitalized with a palpitation problem, but, according to authorities he has recovered fully from the setback.
However Mathews is now training with the rest of the squad.
The condition of Sri Lanka vice captain wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Chandimal who underwent surgery after being struck on the hand while playing a Mercantile Premier League match a few days ago remains a cause for concern.
Chandimal suffered “multiple dislocations around the right thumb area” after he was hit on the hand.
Former Ananda Collage captain Chandimal has been in good nick of late making 1451 runs from 36 matches in the three formats of the game including four centuries. He also scored five successive ODI fifties between June and August this year.
Senanayake said that Chandimal is yet to bat even at the nets and his situation is not entirely stable. The other worrying injuries are the ones that have afflicted Kusal Janith Perera (calf) and Dhananjaya de Silva (finger injury) who batted with a lot of poise during the last series against Australia. There he scored his maiden Test century (129) and followed it up with 65 not out in the Test match that was played at the SSC. He also scored a half century in the ODI series and one during the T-20 series.
Nevertheless the most disturbing is the condition with the Lankan fast bowling contingent. Experienced fast bowlers Dhammika Prasad, Lasith Malinga, Dushmantha Chameera are still in the injured list. The latest in the injured list is Nuwan Pradeep according to Senanayake. “The only fit fast bowler Suranga Lakmal too is among the experienced hands”.
It is imprudent to take half fit players for this tour as, there is list of important engagements in 2017 and most of them are to be played overseas.
The Lankan team is scheduled to leave the country on October 25.
They will play their first Test match from October 29 to November 2 at the Harare Sports Club Grounds while the second Test match will be played at the same venue from 6-10 November.
Lankans are scheduled name their tour squad early next week while already the West Indies have notified their squad earlier. It reads — Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder (Captain), Shai Hope, Jlzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell and Marlon Samuels.
After a sixteen-day break the Lankans will be back — this time at neighbouring South Africa on December 14 and will play a warm-up match against an Invitation South African XI from 18 to 20 at Potchefstroom.
Sri Lanka will play their first Test on December 26 at Port Elizabeth.