After playing a major role in Chennai Super Kings' IPL triumph, young pace bowler Matheesha Pathirana will be hoping to make the same impact for Sri Lanka when he makes his ODI debut in the three-match series against Afghanistan, starting in Hambantota on Friday.
Pathirana, who has played just one T20 International, will be crucial to Sri Lanka's hopes of making it to the ODI World Cup later this year. He will lead the Sri Lankan attack during the World Cup qualifiers later this month in Zimbabwe.
Referred to as 'Baby Malinga', as he has modelled his bowling action on Sri Lankan great Lasith Malinga, the 20-year pacer with sling-arm action took the IPL by storm as he claimed 19 wickets in 12 matches -- including 16 wickets in the death overs.
The ODI series against Afghanistan was organised by Sri Lanka after they failed to qualify for the ODI World Cup, giiving the selectors to have a look at the players before they pick the squad for the all-important World Cup qualifiers.
Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne has been provided another chance to revive his ODI career after he was sacked as ODI captain and was axed from the team in 2021. Fast bowler Dushmantha Chameera is also making a comeback after a long injury lay-off.
Afghanistan, who are led by Hashmatullah Shahidi, are missing ace leg-spinner Rashid Khan for the first two games because of injury but they have the likes of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Noor Ahmad, both of who made an impression in IPL 2023.
Sri Lanka: Dasun Shanaka (captain), Kusal Mendis (vice-captain) 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.
Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmat Shah (vice-captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhail, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujib-ur-Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Abdul Rahman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Farid Ahmad Malik.