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1st India-Sri Lanka Test: Karunaratne says Mendis still not fit, Dickwella back


Published on: March 3, 2022 | Updated on: March 3, 2022

Sri Lanka's Dimuth Karunaratne in a file photo. (Photo: AFP)

Mohali: Pacer Kusal Mendis' hamstring injury continues to keep him out but wicketkeeper-batter Niroshan Dickwella is back after serving a one-year ban for a bio-bubble breach, Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said on Thursday unveiling his line-up for the opening Test against India here.

Both Dickwella and Mendis were banned for a year for breaching bio-bubble protocols during Sri Lanka's tour of England last year. Mendis' inclusion for this tour was subject to fitness following a hamstring injury during the fifth T20I against Australia. He did not play in the T20Is against India because of it.

"Dickwella will be the wicketkeeper, (pacer) Dushmantha Chameera will be rested and will be available for the pink ball Test and Mendis has been ruled out," he said on the eve of the first Test, which would be India star Virat Kohli's 100th five-day match.

It would be a milestone for Karunaratne as well given that he would be leading his country in its 300th Test. Karunaratne said he was happy that crowds would be present for the first Test. The BCCI has allowed spectators at 50 per cent of stadium capacity for the landmark game.

"That's a great feeling...captaining in the country's 300th Test. I did not expect it. It is a great honour for me. I will try my best to give the best result for Sri Lanka," he said in the virtual media interaction.

"I came to know it is Virat's 100th Test. A good decision from the BCCI to allow 50 per cent crowd," he added.

Speaking about Sri Lankan preparations, Karunaratne said everything has gone as planned when it comes to drawing up their strategies for the game.

"Sri Lankan players have been training hard and everybody is in good shape. Hopefully they will produce good form in the two Tests," he said.

Karunaratne said the team had plans for young Indian batters like Shreyas Iyer and Shubman Gil, who are expected to take the places of veterans Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara.

Rahane and Pujara have been dropped for the Tests against Sri Lanka owing to a prolonged lean patch with the bat.

"Yeah, we have a few plans. some youngsters are playing... they are supposed to fill Rahane and Pujara's place. We are trying to execute the plans

He also said the spinners like Lasith Embuldeniya have been doing a good job in the last few years and they can capitalise on Indian conditions, which are traditionally spen-friendly.