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SHARJAH, Saturday - Hard hitting all-rounder Thisara Perera was elevated to the role of leading his country for the first time when he was named captain of the Sri Lanka T20 team to meet Pakistan in a three-match series which ends in Lahore on October 29.

The first two T20I matches will take place in Abu Dhabi on October 26 and 27 before the team flies to Lahore for the final match.
Six members of the Sri Lanka ODI team currently in the UAE figure in the 16-member squad after several of them refused to make the trip to Lahore. The six who agreed to go and selected in the squad are Thisara Perera, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Lahiru Gamage, Seekkuge Prasanna, Vishwa Fernando and Jeffrey Vandersay.
T20 specialist Dasun Shanaka who is representing Sri Lanka A against West Indies A in the Caribbean has also been named in the 16.
“Shanaka will fly to Dubai shortly and join the squad. The rest of the T20 team is also expected by tomorrow,” said Sri Lanka cricket manager and national selector Asanka Gurusinha.
“As Shanaka and Samarawickrama are part of the Sri Lanka A squad they will be replaced by two other standbys from Colombo which the selectors will announce shortly. No player from the present squad touring UAE will be picked to go to the West Indies,” he said. Samarawickrama who made his Test and ODI debut in UAE is in line to make his T20I debut as well along with wicket-keeper/batsman Minod Bhanuka who gets his first taste of international cricket.
Opener Danushka Gunathilaka who was recently suspended on disciplinary grounds by SLC also finds a place in the squad. Perera takes over the captaincy from Upul Tharanga, the regular ODI and T20I captain who is one of the players who has stood down from travelling to Lahore. Perera is the most experienced player in the squad and he also represented the World XI in the three-match T20I series against Pakistan played recently in Lahore. He helped the World XI win the second match with a blistering knock of 47 off 19 balls that comprised five sixes.
Chief selector Graeme Labrooy confirmed that only those willing to play all three T20Is would be selected to play against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka will be returning to Lahore after eight years when their bus was targetted by terrorists and shot at while they were driving to the Gaddafi Stadium for the second Test match against Pakistan.
Since that unfortunate incident no international team had travelled to Pakistan for a tour. Sri Lanka who were the victims of that incident will be breaking new ground when they revisit the place that saw several players injured by the shooting.
Two members of that team Suranga Lakmal and Chamara Kapugedera are presently members of the current Sri Lanka side in the UAE. Both players don’t figure in the 16 picked yesterday.

Head coach Nic Pothas along with trainer Nic Lee and physiotherapist Nirmalan Dhanabalasingham have also indicated they are not in favour of travelling to Lahore. The rest of the support staff that comprises Gurusinha, batting coach Hashan Tillakaratne and fast bowling coach Rumesh Ratnayake will accompany the team to Lahore. Either Ratnayake or Tillakaratne will take over as head coach for the T20I series. Ratnayake has experience of having served in that capacity before.
SRI LANKA T20I SQUAD: Thisara Perera (captain), Dilshan Munaweera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashan Priyanjan, Mahela Udawatte, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka, Sachith Pathirana, Vikum Sanjaya, Lahiru Gamage, Seekkuge Prasanna, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay and Chaturanga de Silva. Allrounder Thisara Perera will lead a new-look, 16-man Sri Lankan squad that will play the T20I series against Pakistan starting next Thursday. The shake-up is the result of some first-choice players - including the regular limited-overs captain Upul Tharanga - not wanting to go to Lahore, where the third match of the series is scheduled to take place.
Two days ago, the SLC chief selector Graeme Labrooy had confirmed that only those willing to play all of the T20s would be picked to play against Pakistan.
That decision was taken by the board in consultation with the Sri Lankan sports ministry and the upshot of that was nine changes to the squad that last played India in September. Thisara is actually the sixth man to captain Sri Lanka this year, following Tharanga, Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath, Dinesh Chandimal and Chamara Kapugedera.
Opener Danushka Gunathilaka regained his place after completing a suspensionfor a lethargic attitude towards training. Sadeera Samarawickrama, the 22-year old batsman who won his first Test and ODI caps on this tour, is in line to make to make his T20I debut. He was one of two uncapped players in the shortest format, alongside wicketkeeper Minod Bhanuka, who will be getting his first taste of any kind of international cricket. Sri Lanka have also recalled offspinner Mahela Udawatee, who has not played for them in eight years.
Sri Lanka squad: Thisara Perera (capt), Dilshan Munaweera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ashan Priyanjan, Mahela Udawatte, Dasun Shanaka, Minod Bhanuka (wk), Sachith Pathirana, Vikum Sanjaya, Lahiru Gamage, Seekkuge Prasanna, Vishwa Fernando, Isuru Udana, Jeffrey Vandersay and Chaturanga de Silva
Sri Lanka announces Squad for T20s against Pakistan
Colombo, 21st October 2017
Sri Lanka Cricket today announced the T20 squad selected to play the T20 Series against Pakistan.
The Squad which was ratified by the Minister of Sport, Hon. Dayasiri Jayasekera, will be captained by Thisara Perera, and consists of: 1. Thisara Perera – Captain 2. Dilshan Munaweera 3. Danushka Gunathilaka 4. Sadeera Samarawickrama 5. Ashan Priyanjan 6. Mahela Udawatte 7. Dasun Shanaka 8. Minod Bhanuka 9. Sachith Pathirana 10. Vikum Sanjaya 11. Lahiru Gamage 12. Seekkuge Prasanna 13. Vishwa Fernando 14. Isuru Udana 15. Jeffrey Vandersay 16. Chaturanga de Silva The squad will play 2 x T20 games against Pakistan in the UAE, and the final game in Lahore, Pakistan on the 29th of October 2017.

(Sunday Observer)

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