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SA tour vital, says Jayasuriya

Johannesburg: Sri Lanka see the tour to South Africa as vital to their 2003 World Cup chances, Sanath Jayasuriya said Tuesday.

“It’s really great to be able to play five one-day Internationals in South Africa with the World Cup coming up,” the skipper said on arrival here. The tour also features two Tests.

The World Cup is to be played in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya in February-March.

The squad includes three uncapped players — allrounder Hasantha Fernando, fast bowlers Thilan Thushara Mirando and Tharanga Lakshitha.

Six bowlers have been picked, with Muttiah Muralidharan being the only specialist spinner. Jayasuriya would have been his back-up but said he would not bowl because of a shoulder injury.

Pacemen Buddika Fernando, Ruchira Perera, Nuwan Zoysa, Ishara Amarasinghe and Eric Upashantha — who were all in the squad in England earlier this year — have been left out.

Also out of favour are middle-order batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan and off-spinning allrounder Thilan Samaraweera, who averages 83 after 10 home Tests.

THE SQUAD

Sanath Jayasuriya (captain), Maravan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Russell Arnold, Hashan Tillekeratne, Jehan Mubarak, Hasantha Fernando, Chaminda Vaas, Dilhara Fernando, Sajeewa de Silva, Chamila Gamage, Thilina Thushara, Tharanga Lakshitha, Muttiah Muralidharan, Prasanna Jayawardene.

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