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Since 1st March, 1999
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Sri Lankans opt for a new-look pace attack

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s selectors have picked a new-look pace bowling attack for a three-match ODI series against England later this month. First-choice Dilhara Fernando (back) and Prabath Nissanka (knee) are still recovering, so left-armer Chaminda Vaas will lead the attack that could include Dinusha Fernando, the recalled Nuwan Zoysa or newboy Nuwan Kulasekera.

But Sri Lanka are most likely to play three specialist slow bowlers — off-spinners Muttiah Muralidharan and Kumara Dharmasena as well as leg-spinner Upul Chandana.

Maravan Atapattu, Sri Lanka’s one-day skipper, said on Tuesday: “The make-up of the final team will depend on conditions, which may suit the pace bowlers more than you would expect in Sri Lanka.”

In all, there are five changes to the squad that won 2-1 against the West Indies in the Caribbean in June, Sri Lanka’s last ODI series. Wicketkeeper Lanka de Silva has been called up as cover for Romesh Kaluwitharana, who is recovering from a hamstring injury and is expected to be fit.

Middle order batsmen Russel Arnold and Chamara Silva will be competing for one final batting place, with Arnold tipped to claim back the spot he lost after a low-scoring World Cup.

England arrive in Sri Lanka on November 13 for a six-week tour that will include three one-dayers and three Tests. The first one-dayer is on November 18.

Meanwhile, England fast bowler Steve Harmison should be fit to rejoin the squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka, the ECB chief medical officer said on Tuesday.

Harmison missed the second Test in Bangladesh last week after injuring his back in the first Test victory where he took nine wickets.

Dr Peter Gregory said scans showed there was no serious cause for the pain Harmison felt during his match-winning performance in Dhaka. “Steve will continue to undergo treatment and strengthening work for his back and I am very optimistic that he will rejoin the England Test squad in Sri Lanka,” Gregory said. The three-Test series against Sri Lanka starts in Galle on December 2.

Blackwell wish

Ian Blackwell missed out during his first chance for England last season, but the hard-hitting allrounder wants to make his second coming count.

The 25-year-old, who celebrated his England recall by smashing a career-best 247, including 27 fours and 11 sixes, for Somerset against his old county Derbyshire earlier this year, said on Tuesday he had learnt from his mistakes. “I was very disappointed at being left out after the World Cup,” Blackwell said on Friday. “I feel very lucky that I’ve got another chance. This time, I want to make sure I rectify what I did wrong earlier and stay in the side for 10 years.”

“There were more issues, like fitness and lifestyle,” Blackwell said. “People thought I did not work hard enough. I’ve always been a thickset guy. If I have to go down to 12 stone or something, I’ll probably have to cut off one leg,” he joked.

Now that he has returned to the international fold in the one-dayers, Blackwell says he is also gunning for a Test spot. “I believe there is a chance that a third spinner might be included for Sri Lanka tour.” (Reuters)

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