Sri Lanka captain frustrated as 2 more players injured

PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka (AP) " Sri Lanka's injury problems worsened ahead of Tuesday's opening test match against Australia, with fast bowler Suranga Lakmal and allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva joining the list of possible absentees.

Fast bowlers Dhammika Prasad, Dushmantha Chameera and leg-spinner Jeffrey Vandersay were injured during Sri Lanka's recent tour to England while seamer Shaminda Eranga was suspended by the International Cricket Council after his bowling action was found to be illegal.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said that Lakmal, who had recovered from a knee injury he had sustained in England, has hamstring stiffness and that De Silva was hit on a finger while bowling at practices. Both will be assessed by the team physiotherapist ahead but Lakmal's participation is the more doubtful.

Mathews spoke of his frustration at the injury problems and urged for a stronger recruitment drive.

"It has been a very frustrating few months, not only one bowler, we've lost so many. You can't blame them, the workload has been very high," Mathews said. "We need to try and look for more new players and try and get them ready and fit to take up the challenge in the international level."

Sri Lanka is on a rebuilding phase with many leading players having retired, and has lost five out of six test series in the past two years.

Australia captain Steve Smith also leads an inexperienced team keen to make up for Australia's poor recent record in Asia.

Since winning its last three-match test series in Sri Lanka 1-0 five years ago, Australia lost against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and on a tour of India: 2-0 and 4-0, respectively.

"We've got quite a few new players, as well having just lost about seven of our senior players less than a year ago," Smith said. "This series going to be a difficult one for us, we haven't played as well as we would have liked to in the sub-continent."

David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon and Shaun Marsh are the only players who have previously played a test match in Sri Lanka.

Both captains said that the pitch is dry and likely to offer early turn to the spinners.

Sri Lanka will heavily rely on left-arm spinner Rangana Herath to keep Australia batsmen at bay supported by off spinner Dilruwan Perera.

Roshen Silva who had scored heavily at domestic level and averages more than 50 in first-class matches is likely to be handed a test cap, with Lahiru Thirimanne being dropped after some poor performances.

Teenage fast bowler Asitha Fernando, who has played two first-class games, or Vishwa Fernando are likely to make their international debut.

Off spinner Lyon who thrived in Australia's last tour to Sri Lanka will partner with left-arm spinner Stephen O Keefe.

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Squads:

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Nuwan Pradeep, Vishwa Fernando, Asitha Fernando, Rangana Herath, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Suranga Lakmal.

Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Moises Henriques, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O'Keefe, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jackson Bird.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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