Return of Mathews, Chandimal to Test squad creates healthy rivalry

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The return of experienced batsmen Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal to the Test squad has created a healthy rivalry for batting places in the Sri Lanka team ahead of the first cricket Test against New Zealand starting at Galle International Stadium on Wednesday.Both players missed out on Sri Lanka’s last Test series in South Africa, Mathews due to injury and Chandimal due to poor form. Chandimal also lost the Test captaincy to Dimuth Karunaratne who went onto create history by becoming the first captain from the subcontinent to win a series 2-0 in South Africa.

While Mathews’ place in the batting line up at four seems assured, Chandimal will have to fight it out with Niroshan Dickwella for the wicket-keeper’s berth. Kusal Perera who kept wickets in the ODIs will play purely as a batsman.Since being left out of the South African tour Chandimal has not played much cricket except taking part in a private T20 tournament in Canada recently but he has experience on his side.

Dickwella after being dropped from the World Cup has toured India with the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team and scored centuries in both formats four-day and limited-overs.“The captain will have to take a call on whom he wants to play,” said chief selector Ashantha de Mel.Sri Lanka are unlikely to tamper with the opening pair from the South African series and will go with Karunaratne and Lahiru Thirimanne with Oshada Fernando who batted with success in South Africa standing by as the third opener. Thirimanne in fact turned 30 yesterday.

In fact Fernando took Mathews’ place in South Africa and distinguished himself in the number three position scoring an unbeaten 75 out of a match-winning partnership of 163 with Kusal Mendis in the second Test at Port Elizabeth. However with Mathews’ return he will be hard-pressed to retain his place in the team for the New Zealand series.