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Sri Lanka rocked by injuries

March 16, 2006 09:52 IST

Sri Lanka have been rocked by an injury crisis just 48 hours prior to the start of the one-day international series against Pakistan.

Veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's highest run scorer in both forms of the game, and fast bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Ruchira Perera have been ruled out of the entire series.

Jayasuriya has suffered a thigh strain, Vaas has a side strain and Perera pulled a hamstring during a recent domestic semi-final.

"All three players have been ruled out of the entire one-day series," team manager Michael Tissera told Reuters on Wednesday.

Ironically, all three were rested from the Test series against Bangladesh earlier this month so they could be fully fit for the three-match series in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's selectors have named their replacements.

"Jehan Mubarak has been called up to replace Jayasuriya, Lasith Malinga comes in for Ruchira Perera and Dammika Prasad takes Vaas's place," Tissera confirmed.

Jayasuriya has been plagued with injuries in the last year since dislocating his shoulder during a tri-series last August.

His absence, however, will ease a dilemma over the batting order with skipper Marvan Atapattu, who has recovered well from a back injury, set to open the innings with in-form left-hander Upul Tharanga.

Had Jayasuriya been fit then either Tharanga would have been dropped or Atapattu forced back into the middle order.


Sri Lanka will also be strengthened in the lower order by the return of left-hander Russel Arnold after he was controversially dropped for the Bangladesh tour.

Muttiah Muralitharan missed training for personal reasons on Wednesday after one of his close relatives died earlier in the week but he will play in the first one-dayer, a day/night game on Friday. The other matches are on Sunday and next Tuesday.

Both teams go into the series determined to solidify a spot in the top six of the International Cricket Council's official one-day rankings.

Sri Lanka, now seventh, will have to enter a preliminary qualification round for the Champions Trophy in India later this year if they cannot improve their rating.

"This series is very important for both sides in terms of the Champions Trophy," Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer told journalists.

Pakistan will be testing a new-look pace attack in the series having lost main strike bowler Shoaib Akhtar with a knee injury that has required surgery.

Fast bowler Mohammad Sami has also been axed while Shabbir Ahmed has been banned for an illegal action.

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