HAMBANTOTA: Sri Lanka set to unleash IPL star Pathirana against Afghanistan ahead of World Cup qualifiers over the years. In the case of Lasith Malinga, he was thrown into the deep end during a so-called Top End tour of Australia in 2004. In the case of Ajantha Mendis, he was introduced just before the Asia Cup and he starred with six wickets against India in the final aas Sri Lanka clinched the trophy in 2008.
The same blueprint is to be followed with 20- year-old Matheesha Pathirana, who will make his ODI debut in the threematch series against Afghanistan that gets underway on Friday.Although Pathirana has played just one Twenty20 International, he is already a star after performing a key role for Chennai in the Super Kings’ run to a record fifth Indian Premier League title. Pathirana bowls with a unique roundarm action and Sri Lankans hope that he’ll be quite a handful for batters during the World Cup qualifiers later this month in Zimbabwe.
Sri Lanka, which won the 1996 World Cup title and has twice been runner-up, needs to go through qualifying because of its slide down the International Cricket Council rankings in the one-day format. Afghanistan has no such issues after qualifying automatically for the showpiece event later this year in India.
Squads 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.
Squads -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.