Left arm spinner Rangana Herath will captain the Sri Lankan team in the two Test series against Bangladesh starting next week at home. Herath will be skippering the team in absence of full-time captain Angelo Mathews, who continues to struggle with his hamstring problem.
In addition to Mathews missing out, left arm spinner Malinda Pushpakumara was added to the Sri Lanka squad in order to help Herath share the load of spin bowling in the series. "He (Herath) has taken on the challenge of leading the team through the two Test series against the Bangladeshi team," announced Sri Lanka cricket in an official statement.
29 year old Malinda Pushpakumara played for Sri Lanka A in 2012 for the first time in a triangular One Day series which featured South Africa and Zimbabwe and later represented the Sri Lanka A team in 2015 against Pakistan. He impressed last week with his superlative bowling performance of 13/205 against an England Lions side playing for Sri Lanka A team. This performance was good enough for the selectors to pick him for the Test squad. Pushpakumara has amassed 558 first-class wickets at an impressive average of 19.35.
Rangana Herath had earlier captained Sri Lanka for the first time in his career against Zimbabwe, when Sri Lanka toured Zimbabwe in November last year, where Sri Lanka won the series 2-0. Bangladesh on the other side has just earned three Test wins in 17 years since they earned Test status in 2000. Last time these two sides met in a Test series in Sri Lanka was in 2014, when Sri Lanka won the first Test by 248 runs, while Bangladesh managed to draw the second Test, but lose the series 1-0.
Rangana Herath has been one of the most prolific spinners for Sri Lanka since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan in 2010. He has picked 357 wickets in his 78 Test career with best bowling figures in an innings of 9/127. The inclusion of Malinda Pushpakumara in the Sri Lanka team for Bangladesh series and Rangana Herath as the captain was the only news that was officially released by the Sri Lanka Cricket and the full squad will be announced later when selector meeting takes place.
However seeing that two orthodox left arm spinners are included in the squad in form of Herath and Pushpakumara, Sri Lanka might drop left arm Chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan from the playing eleven.