If things weren’t bad already for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan cricket in general, they got even worse with Rangana Herath not to take the field in the third and final Test against India that begins on August 12 in Pellekele. However, the Test is a dead rubber considering India lead the three-match series 2-0. Alongside Herath, Sri Lanka would also be without Nuwan Pradeep. Two players will be added to the hosts’ squad in the process. The left arm spinner had pulled up with a stiff back in Colombo.
This is only the first Test Herath will miss in three years with the last coming against New Zealand in the Boxing Day Test when he was nursing a leg injury. Since then he has missed just one Test for Sri Lanka – against Pakistan in July 2015 – that too due to non-selection.
Herath has had a busy past few weeks where he bowled 71.1 overs in the one-off Test against Zimbabwe, 91 overs in the two Tests against India in Galle and Colombo. In the first Test he had picked up left middle finger injury but returned in time for the second Test – which Sri Lanka lost by an innings and 53 runs.
The decision to not include him for the dead rubber has been taken keeping in mind his age and the upcoming Test series against Pakistan. “This is where our player management comes in, because we don’t want to break anyone,” SLC cricket manager Asanka Gurusinha said. “We made the call not to risk Herath because he’s also bowled close to 200 overs in the three Tests. That’s a lot for his body.”
Herath will not be travelling with the team to Kandy for the third Test but stay in Colombo to receive treatment to try and stay fresh for the Pakistan Tests.
In Herath’s absence, Dilruwan Perera will be the senior spinner with left-arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara and left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan in the squad.
Sri Lanka have been seriously struck with injuries during this India Test series with Herath the fourth player to sit out. Asela Gunaratne and Pradeep picked up injuries in the first and second Tests respectively, while Suranga Lakmal was ruled out with a back complaint.