Sri Lanka's cricket selectors yesterday recalled fast bowlers Dilhara Fernando and Lasith Malinga for the first of three Tests against India starting on July 18 in Galle. Three uncapped players were also named the 16-man Sri Lanka squad: batsmen Lahiru Thirimanna and Thilina Kandamby and off-spinner Suraj Randiv. "We go into the series with India with the aim of winning it," captain Kumar Sangakkara said.
Malinga, who has 91 wickets from 28 Tests, has not played the five-day version since turning out against England in Galle in December, 2007. The 26-year-old struggled with injuries during 2008 and 2009, which limited him to appearances in one-day competition. He formed part of the Sri Lanka side that reached the semifinals of the World Twenty20 in May. Fernando last played a Test in 2009 in Pakistan and returns with 88 wickets in 33 matches behind him.
The squad has seven specialist batsmen, including the 20-year-old Thirimanne, who is yet to play a Test. Four seam bowlers are included in the side, while all-rounder Angelo Mathews will also supplement the bowling attack. The Test will be the last for world bowling record holder Muttiah Muralitharan, who has said he will retire from Test cricket after the match. The off-spinner, a veteran of 132 Tests, needs eight more wickets to reach the 800.
"The challenge left for me is to get those eight wickets and go all out to win the match," Muralitharan said. "That would be a nice farewell." It will be the third Test series between the two nations in the past three years. Sri Lanka won 2-1 at home in 2008, while India claimed the return series 2-0 last year to become the world No 1 side. After Galle, the action shifts to Colombo where the second Test will be played at the Sinhalese sports club from July 26 and the third at the P Sara Oval from August 3.