Sri Lanka ring changes ahead of Ireland clash
DUBLIN: Sri Lanka return to ODI action, for the first time since the beginning of January, in Dublin this week with two games against Ireland, preceding the five-match series with England, starting next Tuesday.
The squad will be encouraged by the improvement shown during the Tests against England but selectors have made five changes, with all-rounder Milinda Siriwardana the most notable omission.
Also heading home are Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Niroshan Dickwella and Dilruwan Perera, along with Rangana Herath who has retired from the 50-over format.
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Siriwardana finished as the top Sri Lanka batsman in the ODI series against New Zealand at the end of last year and the second most successful bowler but recent form has counted against him.
The new faces are Farveez Maharoof, Upul Tharanga, Seekkuge Prasanna, Danushka Gunathilaka and Suraj Randiv.
The experienced Maharoof, who has played 104 ODIs, has been rewarded for his performances in Sri Lanka’s List A competition this season when he took 16 wickets in five games.
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It is a quick return to Ireland for Sri Lanka — they played a two-match series in Dublin in 2014, although the second game was abandoned without a ball bowled.
Ireland could have up to eight survivors from the team that lost the first game by 79 runs, but will be without leading batsman and wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien, who tore a calf muscle in a county game for Leicestershire last week.
They will come up against Boyd Rankin, the 6ft 8in Warwickshire pace bowler whose only previous game at Malahide was in an England shirt — he made his ODI debut for them against Ireland in 2013, and was the best bowler on view with figures of 4-46.
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Long gone are the days when touring teams arrived in Ireland looking forward to the famous hospitality more than the match action.
The games promise to be a searching examination for Sri Lanka.