Opener Danushka Gunathilaka returns to a Sri Lanka squad for the first time since being suspended for breaking Covid protocol. Kusal Mendis, who had been suspended alongside him, is in the squad for the five-T20I tour of Australia as well.
There is no room, however, for wicketkeeper-batter Niroshan Dickwella, the other player whose one-year suspension was lifted earlier this month. Bhanuka Rajapaksa, who had been part of Sri Lanka's middle order during the T20 World Cup, has also been omitted, likely due to concerns over his fitness. Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya de Silva, who had also been in the T20 World Cup squad, have lost their places as well.
Several of these players have made it into this squad on the back of good Lanka Premier League performances. Among seam bowlers, Thushara was one of the top three wicket-takers in the competition, claiming 12 wickets across eight matches, with an economy rate of 8.11. Liyanage hit 108 runs at a strike rate of 120 in the four LPL matches he played; Kusal Mendis was the tournament's top run-scorer with 327 runs; and Gunathilaka had the sixth-highest run tally.
Dinesh Chandimal, who had been in Sri Lanka's squad for last year's World Cup but was dropped part-way through the tournament, is in this squad too, following an excellent LPL in which he was among the league's best finishers. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay, who had a good finish to the LPL and was excellent in the ODIs against Zimbabwe in January, has also been included.
The only new player not selected on the basis of LPL performances is the 20-year-old Mishara, who did not play a match in the tournament. He has largely been picked on promise.
Elsewhere, there are few surprises. Angelo Mathews has not been picked, partly because of a hamstring injury he was struggling to recover from even during the LPL. And Rajapaksa, who recently retired and then unretired supposedly at the behest of Sri Lanka's sports minister, on account of not being able to meet the stringent new fitness standards required to be eligible for selection.
The seam attack will be led in Australia by Dushmantha Chameera, and also include Lahiru Kumara, Chamika Karunaratne, Binura Fernando, Shiran Fernando, and Thushara. Nuwan Pradeep has not been picked.
Wanindu Hasaranga (who missed the Zimbabwe ODIs with an injury), Maheesh Theekshana, Vandersay, and Ramesh Mendis form the frontline spin contingent.
The top order will likely consist of Pathum Nissanka, Avishka Fernando, Charith Asalanka (who has been named vice-captain), and perhaps Kusal Mendis and Dinesh Chandimal. Kamindu Mendis has not made the squad.
The first T20I of the series is scheduled for February 11. The matches will be played in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
Sri Lanka T20I squad for Australia tour: Dasun Shanaka (capt), Charith Asalanka, Avishka Fernando, Pathum Nissanka, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Chamika Karunaratne, Janith Liyanage, Kamil Mishara, Ramesh Mendis, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Thushara, Dushmantha Chameera, Binura Fernando, Maheesh Theekshana, Jeffrey Vandersay, Praveen Jayawickrama, Shiran Fernando