More trouble as Lakmal suffers back strain ahead of second Test


Rex Clementine in Canberra

Sri Lanka’s tour of Australia has gone from bad to worse with their former captain Suranga Lakmal skipping training on Thursday ahead of today’s second Test against Australia here at the Manuka Oval in Canberra. Lakmal, who came up with a lion-hearted effort at the Gabba last week picking up a five wicket haul was struggling to get up from the bed yesterday due to a back strain and was expected to go for an MRI scan later in the evening.

In case Lakmal is ruled out, Sri Lanka will have to rely on a totally inexperienced attack which means along with Kasun Rajitha and Vishwa Fernando, both of whom didn’t feature in Gabba will be backed up by debutant Chamika Karunaratne. The 22-year-old arrived in Canberra Wednesday night and it will be tough ask for him to make his Test debut in such short notice.

On a dry surface where captain Dinesh Chandimal expected the ball to turn from day two, Sri Lanka could bring back a second spin option instead of a third seamer. But the tourists seem to be little confident about Lakshan Sandakan’s control after a disappointing warm-up game in Hobart a fortnight ago.

Karunaratne is not the finish product though. Most First Class cricketers in Sri Lanka suspect Karunaratne’s bouncer and in a place like Australia he will be shredded into pieces. Pity the selectors didn’t think long and hard about it before making the call.

Lakmal is the fourth fast bowler to be injured on tour after Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara and Dushmantha Chameera. All seamers except for Lakmal have been ruled out of the tour of South Africa as well which means the Sri Lankans will have to rely on their second string players.

The tourists also have two reserve batsmen in the squad and either Kusal Perera or Sadeera Samarawickrama could come in for Dhananjaya de Silva.

Australian skipper Tim Paine confirmed an unchanged side. The Aussies are under pressure having lost a first ever home series to India earlier in the summer. No Australian batsman this season has managed to score a hundred after five Test matches.

Local media has been critical of the form of left-arm quick Mitchell Starc and there have been suggestions that Pat Cummins should take over as the leader of the attack. But captain Paine shot down the idea backing his premier bowler, who claimed his 200th Test wicket in Brisbane.

This is the first Test match that Manuka Oval is hosting and there’s huge interest among the locals with the tickets sold out for the first three days.

Australia Squad: Tim Paine(Captain), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Jhye Richardson, Kurtis Patterson, Marcus Stoinis

Sri Lanka Squad: Dinesh Chandimal(Captain), Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Dimuth Karunaratne, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne

Umpires: Michael  Gough (Eng) Richard Illingworth (Eng)

Third Umpire: Marais Erasmus (RSA)

Match Referee: Javagal Srinath (Ind)

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