Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jayasuriya faces axe for West Indies series

Sanath Jayasuriya: The final farewell?...

Sanath Jayasuriya faces being dropped from Sri Lanka's one-day squad for the three-match series against West Indies, starting next month. Cricinfo has learned the side has been picked - without Jayasuriya - and is awaiting ratification by the sports minister.

The squad is also likely to be without Muttiah Muralitharan, the offspinner, and Lasith Malinga, the fast bowler. While Murali is being rested, Malinga is believed to have suffered a knee injury that will require rest for about three to four weeks. He will be replaced by fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara for the Test and ODI series.

Jayasuriya, 38, the seniormost cricketer in the Sri Lanka team with 411 ODI appearances, will make way for Mahela Udawatte, the hard-hitting opener who is being spoken of as his future successor. Udawatte, 21, plays for Chilaw Marians.

Since his 63 in the World Cup final against Australia last year, Jayasuriya has had a poor run of form. He has failed to pass 50 even once in his last 20 ODI innings, scoring 305 runs at an average of 15.25. His decision to retire from Tests and focus on ODIs hasn't helped his batting either.

The selectors are believed to have picked the uncapped Ajantha Mendis, of Army SC, in Murali's place. Mendis, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, is also an offspinner and, with 54 wickets at an average of ten, the leading wicket-taker in the current Premier League season. He will operate alongside legspinner Malinga Bandara.

Sources in the selection committee said the decision was aimed at preserving Muralitharan, who turns 36 next month, for the 2011 World Cup. He will appear only in important ODI tournaments.