A big blow for Sri Lanka as their newly-appointed captain – Dinesh Chandimal has been ruled out of the first Test against India which starts at Galle on 26th July. Chandimal missed Thursday's press conference due to the flu which was later confirmed as pneumonia by team manager Asanka Gurusinha on Friday. According to the reports, the 27-year old had since been hospitalised and would not be available for the first Test, which starts on Wednesday.
Veteran spinner Rangana Herath who captained the Lankan lions for four Tests in the 2016-17 season is likely to lead once again in Chandimal’s absence. Chandimal was named captain earlier this month after Angelo Mathews stepped down following their Sri Lanka’s ODI series loss against Zimbabwe.
Speaking to the media, Asanka Gurusinha, Sri Lanka's cricket manager, confirmed the news on Friday: "We were actually only told late last night - the blood Test came a bit late. He's got pneumonia. He was admitted to hospital this morning at 9 am, and he's definitely out of the first Test,” as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
"The doctors have advised us this morning to say: 'Finish the first Test' and they'll advise us afterwards. If they tell us he needs another week to recover, that's it. We can't do anything. He had started feeling unwell on Tuesday after the Zimbabwe Test, but we never suspected it would be anything like pneumonia.”
Chandimal’s absence will disturb the team combination for the hosts who depends a lot on his captain to provide him stability at the top. Interestingly, on India’s last tour to Sri Lanka in 2015, Chandimal played a match-winning knock of unbeaten 162 in the second innings that helped his team to register an emphatic victory over Virat Kohli’s men by 63 runs.
Gurusinha further added: "Most probably the captain is going to be Rangana, because for now it's just one Test, and he has done the job before. But we haven't worked everything out. We will sit down and do that this afternoon."
Middle order batsman Asela Gunaratne and fast bowler Nuwan Pradeep have also been declared fit and are likely to be available for the match against India. India is scheduled to play a full series in Sri Lanka after a gap of eight years – it includes 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and one-off T20I.