Sri Lanka have named their ODI and T20 squads for the upcoming tour of Pakistan with Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka named as the two respective skippers.
It follows from 10 senior Sri Lanka players including T20 and ODI skippers Lasith Malinga and Dimuth Karunaratne pulling out of the tour recently after citing security concerns.
The islanders are slated to play three ODIs first up at Karachi as part of their Pakistan tour before they move on Lahore for a three-match T20 series. The tour had been announced by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) after a two-man delegation from Sri Lanka Cricket assessed the security conditions in a visit of the county last month.
The PCB were hoping to use the successful hosting of the limited-overs clashes against Sri Lanka as a precursor to bringing back Test cricket to Pakistan but the refusal of the 10 players to travel will count as a setback.
Sri Lanka’s tour of Pakistan gets underway on September 27 with the first of the three ODIs at Karachi and will culminate with the final T20 at Lahore which takes place on October 9.
Sri Lanka have recalled batsman Danushka Gunathilaka and spinner Lakshan Sandakan after omitting them from the squad for the recent home series against Bangladesh. Minod Banuka and Bhanuka Rajapaksa are the two uncapped players selected for the tour with the former picked for both squads while the latter has been called up for the T20s.
Sri Lanka ODI Squad
Lahiru Thirimanne (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Angelo Perera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.
Sri Lanka T20 Squad
Dasun Shanaka (c), Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Avishka Fernando, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Angelo Perera, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Minod Bhanuka, Lahiru Madushanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara.
1st ODI – Karachi, September 27
2nd ODI – Karachi, September 29
3rd ODI – Karachi, October 2
1st T20 – Lahore, October 5
2nd T20 – Lahore, October 7
3rd T20 – Lahore, October 9
It has been quite the comeback story for Tim Paine ever since the wicketkeeper batsman made his Australia return after a gap of seven years in the 2017-18 Ashes series Down Under.
Since then, the Tasmanian has ascended to the Australia Test captaincy in the most unexpected of manners following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year and he now stands on the verge of leading the visitors to their first Ashes series win on English soil since 2001.
At 34, Paine is at the tail-end of his playing career but the wicketkeeper batsman is in no mood to retire any time soon after picking up a second wind.
“Not for me, not at the moment,” Paine replied when asked if he would consider retiring after the final Ashes Test against England which begins at the Oval on Thursday.
“I’m loving doing what I’m doing, and I think while you’ve got a job that you love you try and do it for as long as you can. I did miss a lot, I suppose, in the prime years of my cricket career.
“The positive of that now is that physically I’m in really good condition for my age, and feel really good after Test matches physically. Mentally, it’s a different story but it only takes a day to recover from that.
“While I keep enjoying it, I’ll keep doing it.”
The ongoing Ashes series has kick-started the inaugural ICC World Test Championship which will culminate after a two-year cycle with the top two teams battling it out in a one-off match at Lord’s in 2021. Paine would be 36 by the time that final comes around but the Australian is hesitant to mark it down as his future retirement date.
“I haven’t thought about it to be honest,” Paine said when asked if he would consider the end of the two-year cycle as a potential retirement point.
“I haven’t thought much past this Test match, as I’ve said in the last 18 months, I think it’s foolish at my age if you do. I’m enjoying what I’m doing and whilst I can continue to contribute in some way, I’ll continue to do it.
“I constantly talk to JL (Justin Langer) and Trevor Hohns (Australia selection chief) about what might happen or how long I might go on for, but I think we’re all comfortable and we’re all on the same page.”
Paine and his men have already retained the urn on English soil after a gap of 18 years but the Australia skipper is determined to finish with an outright series win.
“We came here to win the Ashes. We didn’t come here to retain them,” Paine stated.
A near four-month stay in England is about to draw to an end for many Australia players as the two arch-rivals prepare to lock horns in the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Oval beginning on Thursday.
The visitors have already managed to retain the urn after their 185-run win at Old Trafford in the fourth Test but they are still eyeing an outright series win for the first time on English soil since 2001.
England, on the other hand, are looking to level the series and restore some pride after their Manchester defeat. There is also the added matter of 24 vital ICC World Test Championship points on offer for both sides.
As the two old foes prepare for one final battle at London, we look at three key duels which could prove to be decisive.
Joe Root v Josh Hazlewood
The England skipper has been one of the better batsmen for his side in the series with three half-centuries but an equal number of ducks besides his name has meant that consistency has eluded him.
Root’s has paled in comparison to his ‘Fab Four’ rival Steve Smith who has racked up 671 runs in five innings and the Englishman will be under pressure to deliver at the Oval with question marks surrounding his captaincy.
Root, however, will not have it easy against Josh Hazlewood who has been a real difference maker for Australia since coming into the playing XI for the second Test. The seamer has claimed 18 wickets in just three Tests this series with a remarkable average of 16.88, and his immaculate lines and lengths have been a terror to deal with for the English batsmen.
Hazlewood has had Root’s number three times already in the series and will be looking to continue that domination at the Oval.
Stuart Broad v David Warner
This one looks like a no-contest after a completely one-sided domination by Stuart Broad. The England pacer has been all over Warner like a rash this summer and has dismissed him a staggering six times in eight innings.
Warner, in return, has been able to score just the 32 runs against the Englishman and has found no answer at all despite repeatedly getting out in the same fashion. Broad has worked the Aussie opener over with his ability to seam the ball both ways from around off-stump with Warner either falling lbw to the incoming delivery or feathering an edge to the slip cordon to the one that goes away.
Warner will be afforded one final chance to get back at Broad, with Justin Langer continuing to back the misfiring opener, and he will be determined to have the last laugh in what has been a completely lopsided battle so far.
Jack Leach v Steve Smith
Pictures of Steve Smith supposedly mocking Jack Leach by wearing a pear of glasses to celebrate Australia’s win in the fourth Test have whipped up quite the storm on social media in England.
The Australian team management has swiftly denied those accusations by stating that Smith was simply giving a nod to former opening batsman Chris Rogers. While the controversy is nothing but a storm in a teacup, the battle between the two players across the 22 yards at the Oval could prove to be an interesting one.
Statistically, Smith’s least-favourite bowlers to face are left-armed spinners and Leach did give him some troubles at Old Trafford before he went on to notch a double ton. Unfortunately for the England spinner, he committed the cardinal sin of overstepping when he had Smith caught at first slip and that proved to be a costly mistake with the Aussie making England pay.
Leach might still be England’s best bet to trouble Smith at the Oval given the ease with which the Aussie batsman dealt with Jofra Archer in the last Test.
Australian head coach Justin Langer has denied Steve Smith was mocking Jack Leach after their fourth Test victory which saw the team retain the Ashes— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) September 10, 2019