Nishan Madushka and Milan Rathnayake have been handed maiden Test call-ups while Chamika Karunaratne has made a return to the Sri Lanka Test squad for the upcoming two-match series against New Zealand. Sri Lanka Cricket, on Friday (February 24), announced a 17-member squad led by Dimuth Karunaratne.
Madushka, a 23-year old right-handed opening batter, comes into the squad in a rich vein of form, with scores of 241 and 100 against the England Lions in the two first-class matches held in January-February this year. He also struck 150 in a practice game against the Lions playing for SLC Board President’s XI. He has scored 3389 runs in 38 first-class matches, including a career-best of 300 not out. Rathnayake, a 26-year-old pacer, has picked up 42 wickets in 22 first-class appearances, with one five-wicket haul. He bagged a three-wicket against the Lions recently.
Sri Lanka Test squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Oshada Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Dinesh Chandimal, Kamindu Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella, Nishan Madushka, Ramesh Mendis, Prabath Jayasuriya, Chamika Karunaratne, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Asitha Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Milan Rathnayake
Karunaratne hasn’t played a Test since his debut against Australia in February 2019. He bagged a four-wicket haul in the second first-class game against the Lions and also stuck a half-century against the same side in a List A game. Karunaratne, who was handed a suspended one-year ban last year for breaching the player agreement, featured in the limited-overs series against India earlier this year.
The squad also includes Lahiru Kumara who last played a Test against India in March 2022. Meanwhile, Dunith Wellalage, Lakshitha Manasinghe, Jeffrey Vandersay, Pathum Nissanka and Dilshan Madushanka are the ones excluded from the squad that took on Pakistan in a Test series in July last year.
The matches against New Zealand will be Sri Lanka’s first Test series in more than seven months. The two Tests, to be played from March 9 and March 17 in Christchurch and Wellington respectively, hold a lot of significance for the visiting side. If Sri Lanka win the series 2-0, they will stand a chance of making the final of the World Test Championship. However, they will still need India to beat Australia 4-0 or at least a 2-1 result in that series to get through to the summit clash.