As we all know by now, many Sri Lankan seniors have refused to take part in the Pakistan tour stating personal issues. While the refusal of the likes such as Suranga Lakmal who firsthand experienced the terrorist attack ten years ago, is understandable, the reasons for others are up for debate. Especially when both the Pakistan and Sri Lankan authorities have guaranteed safety.
Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne have opted out of the tour
Kusal Mendis was not available for selection due to an injury.
On paper, it seems like many players opted out of the tournament. However, realistically, just how many of them had a chance of getting picked?
Akila Dhananjaya is banned for one year, Thisara Perera and Dinesh Chandimal were not selected for the earlier tournaments, Lasith Malinga has retired from ODIs while Suranga Lakmal is mostly a test bowler these days. So, altogether, its only five players missing. Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne.
A Sliver line
Instead, many players who have been performing in the domestic circuit, as well as the emerging teams, have got a valuable opportunity. Dasun Shanaka, Wanindu Hasaranga, Minod Bhanuka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Oshada Fernando, Dhanushka Gunathilake, Shehan Jayasooriya got picked for the entire tournament. Earlier, these bench players would get only one or two games here and there. But now they get to play a whole tournament together, and we see some positives.
Already, there is a century from Dhanushka Gunathilake and a 96 from Shehan Jayasooriya. We also saw some excellent pinch-hitting by Dasun Shanaka and Wanindu Hasaranga, something that has been lacking from Sri Lankan ODI team. Also, Wanindu showed that he is a capable leg spinner who can take wickets. These are all great positives even if Sri Lankans lose all the matches.