Colombo: Sri Lanka are set to ramp up their Cricket World Cup Qualifier preparation with a three-match ODI series at home against Afghanistan.
Up-and-coming pacer Matheesha Pathirana could make his ODI debut after an impressive title-winning IPL season as he was included in the 16-member squad for the first two ODIs of the Afghanistan series.
Nicknamed 'Baby Malinga' for their similar round-arm action, Pathirana is capped in T20Is for Sri Lanka but is yet to feature in the longer formats. The returning Dushmantha Chameera, who is back after a long injury layoff, will lead the pace attack.
Squad for the 1st two ODIs against Afghanistan:
Dasun Shanaka (Captain), Kusal Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Dimuth Karunaratne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Angelo Mathews, Dhananjaya De Silva, Charith Asalanka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dushan Hemantha, Chamika Karunaratne, Dushmantha Chameera, Matheesha Pathirana, Lahiru Kumara, Kasun Rajitha.
While Sri Lanka have looked to infuse youth, they have also chosen to go with the experience of Dimuth Karunaratne to strengthen their batting, who last featured for the Islanders in the 50-over format in 2021.
Kusal Perera missed out on the squad due to a hamstring injury, making way for Sadeera Samarawickrama to return to the ODI setup after four years.
Dasun Shanaka will lead the squad in the ODI series that commences on 2 June in Hambantota, which would be the perfect dress rehearsal for Sri Lanka before they head to Zimbabwe for the World Cup Qualifier.