Sports

Sri Lanka trial Test reset in Afghanistan tour

Afghanistan’s captain Hashmatullah Shahidi (L) and Afghan player Rahmat Shah arrive at the hotel in Colombo on January 31, 2024 prior to play one-off test, three one day international (ODI) and three T20 cricket matches during their tour of Sri Lanka.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Sri Lanka hope to revive their flagging Test fortunes with new five-day captain Dhananjaya de Silva taking the helm for their one-off match against Afghanistan starting Friday in Colombo.

The island nation is dead last on the World Test Championship rankings and their last match in October at the same ground saw a humiliating innings and 222-run loss to Pakistan in their worst ever home defeat.

De Silva, a middle-order batsman and handy off-spinner, takes charge ahead of a full tour slate for the year including a three-Test series in England.

“Very excited about what is about to unfold with my cricket career. More so Sri Lankan Test cricket going forward,” de Silva told AFP.

Three uncapped players are among Sri Lanka’s 16-member squad as part of a generational refresh heralded by the appointment of different captains for the Test, ODI and T20 sides earlier this month.

Fast bowler Kasun Rajitha, who missed the recent home series against Zimbabwe due to injury, has made a comeback into the side.

Afghanistan are making a name for themselves in white-ball cricket but have had less chance to impress in five-day matches since being granted Test status in 2017.

Friday will be their first Test against Sri Lanka and eighth overall.

“We are committed to strengthening our red-ball cricket and building a formidable Test side as well,” Afghanistan Cricket Board chair Mirwais Ashraf said in a statement this week.

The visitors landed in Colombo on Tuesday missing star leg-spinner Rashid Khan who is recovering from back surgery.

Qais Ahmad, who has featured in a single Test match, is his expected replacement.

Afghanistan mainstay and opening batsman Ibrahim Zadran will drive the tourists’ attack and has an impressive white-ball record in Sri Lanka, where he notched up two of his five ODI hundreds.

Both teams will play three ODIs in Kandy and three T20 matches in Dambulla after the Test.

Test squads

Sri Lanka: Dhananjaya de Silva (capt), Kusal Mendis, Dimuth Karunaratne, Nishan Madushka, Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Ramesh Mendis, Asitha Fernando, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Kamindu Mendis, Prabath Jayasuriya, Lahiru Udara, Chamika Gunasekara, Milan Rathnayake.

Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), Ibrahim Zadran, Abdul Malik, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Bahir Shah, Nasir Jamal, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Ishaq (wk), Qais Ahmad, Zia-ur-Rehman, Zahir Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Nijat Masood, Mohammad Saleem, Naveed Zadran.

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