Legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga and wicketkeeper-bat Bhanuka Rajapaksa have returned to Sri Lanka’s T20I squad for the upcoming three-match series at home against Australia, starting June 7. Hasaranga was initially picked for the tour of India earlier this year – their last international assignment – but missed the T20Is due to covid, while Rajapaksa had been left out due to fitness concerns.
The duo, however, comes back with strong IPL performances in tow. Hasaranga, who missed out on the Purple Cap by just one wicket, finished with 26 scalps in a breakout IPL debut season with Royal Challengers Bangalore. He last played a T20I for Sri Lanka on their trip Down Under in February, and picked five wickets in two outings, before missing the India tour.
Rajapaksa, meanwhile, replaces veteran wicketkeeper Dinesh Chandimal in the squad, who has been dropped following ordinary returns on successive white-ball tours of Australia and India. He aggregated only 61 runs in four T20Is in Australia before being dropped for the final game, and in India, he made 41 in three innings with a best of 22.
Despite losing his spot in the XI upon Jonny Bairstow’s arrival, Rajapaksa accumulated 209 runs in nine games he got for PBKS at a strike-rate just a shade below 160, often chipping in vital cameos at one-drop. His last appearance for Sri Lanka in the shortest format was in the 2021 Men’s T20 World Cup fixture against West Indies in UAE, which they won against the two-time champions by 20 runs.
Sri Lanka have selected 19-year-old pace sensation Matheesha Pathirana, who recently received high praise from MS Dhoni in the IPL. Pathirana, who impressed at the U-19 World Cup and has a similarly slingy bowling action to Lasith Malinga was roped in by CSK as a replacement for Adam Milne. The right-arm quick featured in two fixtures for the team, and has already been earmarked as an important bowler for next season.