GALLE: Fast bowler Suranga Lakmal will play no part in the upcoming Test series against Pakistan, having sustained severe swelling above his left ankle following the second Test against South Africa. Shaminda Eranga may be available for the first Test, however, providing he proves he has recovered well enough from a hand injury to field without complaint.
Sri Lanka had named Lakmal in the Test squad in the hope he would be fit for the Pakistan series, but though fears that Lakmal had sustained a stress fracture were allayed, the swelling persisted, leading to edema. Lakmal’s availability for the three-match ODI series to follow the Tests is also under serious doubt, as his recovery is now expected to take at least three weeks. Team manager Michael de Zoysa said Sri Lanka would not name a replacement for Lakmal.
Eranga could only deliver nine overs on the first day of the South Africa Test series, having split the webbing between the thumb and index finger on his bowling hand, while fielding. That injury required eight stitches and kept him out of the second Test at the SSC, but de Zoysa says he will be in consideration for a place in the first Test against Pakistan, depending on how he fields at training in the two days prior.
Sri Lanka have taken the unusual step of naming five fast bowlers in their 15-man squad for the home series, in order to provide cover for the frontline seamers battling injury. From the three other quicks, Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep both played in Sri Lanka’s most recent Test win, at Headingley, but left-armer Chanaka Welegedara has not played Tests since December 2012. Heavy work rates have taken their toll on Eranga and Lakmal, who have now failed to complete a Test together since early February. Both have bowled roughly 38 overs per Test this year.
Eranga has been largely injury-free over the past 18 months, apart from an ankle complaint that ruled him out of the second Test against Bangladesh earlier this year, and the blood injury he picked up against South Africa. Lakmal’s injury history, however, has been of more concern. A hamstring tear prevented him from playing most of the ODIs and the two Tests in England, and his left ankle has caused him particular strife before, necessitating surgery.
Injuries to the frontline seamers means spinners Rangana Herath and Dilruwan Perera will be under even more pressure to take wickets against Pakistan, having also had high work rates during the South Africa series. Herath has bowled a phenomenal 491.4 overs in eight Tests since the New Year’s Test against Pakistan. No other cricketer has delivered more than 285 overs in Tests this year. The first Test begins in Galle on Wednesday.
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