Reports of players ‘deliberately underperforming’ in T20I series denied by SLC

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on Thursday refuted allegations of its players ‘deliberately underperforming’ in the recently-concluded T20I series against South Africa.

The development came after some media reports in the island nation claimed that some of the players in the team did not fully commit themselves on the field in a comprehensive 3-0 series loss to South Africa.

“Sri Lanka Cricket has not received such a complaint from the ‘Team Management’ against any player of the National squad. Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to inform you that it was the same group of players who played in the ODI series which Sri Lanka won against South Africa,” read an official statement from the SLC.

“Sri Lanka not only won the ODI series vs South Africa 2-1 but also gained crucial points and climbed up in the rankings of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League. It is understood and acknowledged by the fans that the Sri Lanka National Team, since the recent past is, progressing forward by winning important contests and heading in the right direction,” added the statement.

Meanwhile, the SLC has also requested news organisations in the country to follow ethical journalism ahead of next month’s men’s T20 World Cup, starting on October 17 in Oman and the UAE.

“Therefore, Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to request from the respective news organizations, which published the false and fabricated news item to follow ethical journalism practices, as such, false reporting will destabilize and scuttle the National Team’s preparations ahead of the crucial ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.”

“Such false reporting will also mentally affect the players, who are showing commitment and desire to count their presence in the team, as witnessed in the recent competitions, Sri Lanka played,” concluded the statement.

Sri Lanka, the 2014 champions, are placed in Group A of the first round of the mega event. They are scheduled to take on their Group A opponents Namibia in their first match of the T20 World Cup in on October 18 followed by Ireland on October 20 in Abu Dhabi and the Netherlands on October 22 in Sharjah.

Earlier, the SLC had announced a 15-member Sri Lankan squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which will be led by Dasun Shanaka.

The islanders are slated to begin their campaign in the showpiece event on October 18 against Namibia in Abu Dhabi in Group A of the First Round.

In Group A, Sri Lanka have been drawn with drawn with Ireland and the Netherlands apart from Namibia.

The major absence from the Sri Lanka squad are Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka, who all ahve been banned for a year for breaking the Covid-19 protocols during the side’s England tour in July this year.

With Kusal Perera’s return after an injury, Minod Bhanuka, who was keeping the wickets in Perera’s absence, also misses out.

Off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana, 21, who made his T20I debut in the first match against South Africa and dismissed Heinrich Klaasen, has been included.

The other spinners in the squad are left-armer Praveen Jayawickrema, who made his international debut earlier this year, and Wanindu Hasaranga.

Jayawickrema is the only uncapped member in the squad but has been included on the basis of his terrific performances in other formats. He had an excellent Test debut against Bangladesh in April, picking up 11 wickets in the match. He also has played five ODIs so far and picked up five wickets.

The fast bowling department will be led by Dushmantha Chameera along with veteran seamer Nuwan Pradeep and all-rounder Chamika Karunaratne.

They have also named four reserves, who will travel with the squad as injury cover — Lahiru Kumara, Binura Fernando, Akila Dananjaya and Pulina Tharanga.

News Desk

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