Perera’s last appearance for Sri Lanka was in the Bridgetown Test against West Indies in June last year.
The selectors however were forced to make a second change to the squad and drop Danushka Gunathilaka after he suffered a back injury while fielding during the third ODI against New Zealand at Nelson on Tuesday.
“Something happened to a disc in his spine while fielding and he could not move because his back became stiff. He couldn’t bat in his usual position as opener and came to bat lower down at no. 7,” said chief selector Ashantha de Mel on Gunathilaka’s injury.
“I was told that he had this injury before too and it kept flaring up whenever they throw themselves about on the field. We missed him today (Tuesday), if he had come in as opener and given us a good start things could have been different,” he said.
Gunathilaka usually an aggressive batsman scored 31 off 52 balls with one four before being dismissed.
With Gunathilaka out of action De Mel said that either Sadeera Samarawickrama or Lahiru Thirimanne would fill the slot as opening partner to Dimuth Karunaratne.
“We’ll have Dinesh Chandimal batting at 3, Kusal Mendis at 4 and either Dhananjaya de Silva or Roshen Silva at 5, Kusal Perera at 6 and Niroshan Dickwella at 7. Dhananjaya can also bowl. You need at least four specialist bowlers and a half bowler. You can’t go into a Test match with only four bowlers the workload on the fast bowlers will be too much,” said De Mel.
The Lankan batsmen who got away with a draw in the first Test at Wellington against New Zealand succumbed to the short pitched ball in the second Test played at Christchurch and lost it by a record margin of 423 runs.
De Mel expects Australia also to give the same treatment to the Lankan batters in the two Tests scheduled to be played at Brisbane (Gabba) and Canberra (Manuka Oval).
“Australia is going to be interesting. Playing with the pink ball in the night it is going to swing. It’s very important that our fast bowlers get the seam movement because their fast bowlers Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins will get swing,” said De Mel.
“Our batsmen are going to get pounded with short pitched deliveries because Australia will realize that we are used to playing on slow and low wickets and we are not used to the bounce.
“Going to Australia is not easy without any practice on bouncy wickets. There is about 1½ feet difference in bounce between the two countries, what is waist high in our country is chest high in Australia. We have to adapt. We have only one 3-day game and then we go straight into the Test matches,” he said.
Sri Lanka open their tour with a 3-day warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI at Hobart on January 17 before moving into the two-Test series with the first beginning on January 24 at Brisbane (Gabba) and the second on February 1 at Canberra. These are the only matches Sri Lanka will play during their short tour to Australia.