Sri Lanka off-spinner Maheesh Theekshana will miss his side’s opening match of the ongoing T20 World Cup against Bangladesh in ‘Super 12’ Group 1 of the showpiece event in Sharjah on Sunday (October 24) due to a back strain.
The back strain injury happened during Sri Lanka’s qualifying Group A match against the Netherlands and had some discomfort while bowling on Friday.
The 21-year-old youngster was his team’s most impressive bowler during Round 1 of the T20 World Cup as he had picked eight wickets from just three matches. He also played a crucial role in Sri Lanka’s much-needed win over the Netherlands, in the islanders last Qualifier game.
Theekshana picked up two top-order wickets of Netherlands and helped his side bundle out their opponents at a paltry 44.
Sri Lanka batter Bhanuka Rajapaksa confirmed the development that the spinner has a side strain and the team management won’t risk him playing against Bangladesh in their openeing game of the Super 12 stage on Sunday.
“The physios have said the decision might be probably to leave him for the next game,” Bhanuka Rajapaksa was quoted as saying by Cricket.com.
“We don’t want to risk it by playing him and then him not playing in the rest of the series. For the moment he will be missing the next game as far as I know. It’s not 100 percent decided yet, but most probably, he will miss the first game and then play the rest of the games,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka also announced on Saturday that Theekshana will be missing Sunday’s match against Bangladesh however, he also said that the condition of the youngster was “OK”.
He further said that Theekshana, who had already scalped eight wickets in the first three qualifying games, will be playing in the games post the Bangladesh contest.
In their game against Netherlands, the Sri Lanka pacers — Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, and Chamika Karunaratne — also bowled decently along with Theekshana. Rajapaksa meanwhile, said that the spinners complemented the pacers well.
“I think it’s such a benefit having two bowlers who are bowling above 90mph. Any batsman, they get shook because bowling at 145 [kph] plus and not having any room, just bowling in good areas, it’s always difficult as a batsman to get over,” he opined.
Significantly, Theekshana is the second-highest wicket-taker in the ongoing T20 World Cup after Bangladesh’s star all-rounder Shakib Al Hassan.
Theekshana, who has been termed as the new Ajantha Mendis, has scalped eight wickets so far. While he picked three wickets each against Namibia and Ireland, he later returned with impressive figures of 2/3 against the Netherlands in the final qualifying game on Friday.
After winning all their three games against Namibia, Ireland and Netherlands, Sri Lanka secured a comfortable place in the Super 12 of Group 1.
The islanders are now placed in the group along with Australia, South Africa, two-time T20 World Cup champions West Indies, Bangladesh and England.
After Bangladesh, Sri Lanka will be up against Australia on October 28 in Dubai before facing South Africa and England in Sharjah on October 20 and November 1 respectively. The islanders will take on the Windies in their last group game in Abu Dhabi on November 4.