By Champika Fernando
In-form allrounder Thisara Perera has been drafted into the 15-man squad that would take on Pakistan in the three-Test series starting on Friday in Galle while opener Lahiru Thirimanne who played at the expense of Tharanga Paranavithana during the two match home series against England has been axed. Perera who starred with a magnificent bowling effort in the second and the third ODI against Pakistan is widely considered a player for the two shorter versions but his efforts during the ODI series has impressed the selectors as well as the team management.
He picked up a career-best 6 for 44 in the second ODI and picked up a match-changing hat-trick in the fourth ODI.
Team coach Graham Ford who is highly impressed by Perera’s progress during the last few months said at the end of the second ODI that given Perera’s current form, he will easily find a place in the Test side.
The 23- year-old right arm paceman has featured in five Test matches, but his performances had been far from impressive with 128 runs in nine innings and seven wickets in six innings.
However Paranavithana, who has partnered TM Dilshan at the top of the order in 27 Test matches, has been recalled to the side in place of Thirimanne who is far from impressive in his seven match Test career.
Paranavithana did not feature against the Englishmen in March after a dismal series against South Africa last December. Paranavithana, averaging a just over 33 in Test cricket has two centuries and ten half centuries, since making his debut against Pakistan in that ill-fated tour in 2009.
Uncapped allrounder Jeevan Mendis has also been included in the 15-man squad.
Meanwhile specialist ODI paceman, Nuwan Kulasekara is also making a comeback to the national side after two years and will spearhead the bowling attack with Chanaka Welagedara and Nuwan Pradeep.
Suraj Randiv and Ragana Herath will lead the spin attack.