Sri Lanka have lost Angelo Mathews midway through their West Indies tour, after he left for home due to personal reasons. The news gets worse for the team: fast bowler Lahiru Gamage has been ruled out of the tour as well, thanks to a fractured finger sustained on the final day of the first Test.
Replacements will be flown out, but they are almost certain to be unavailable for the second Test, given the length of the flights. Batsman Danushka Gunathilaka, who had played in the Tests against Bangladesh in February, and allrounder Dasun Shanaka, who had played against India last year, will only leave Sri Lanka on Wednesday evening – the eve of the St. Lucia Test.
Thankfully for Sri Lanka, they had taken the precaution of carrying 17 players, rather than the usual 15, on tour. This means they have Dhananjaya de Silva and Mahela Udawatte as cover for an unavailable batsman, and two extra quicks, Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando, on hand to replace Lahiru Gamage in the XI.
Mathews has had awful luck during tours over the past two years, missing more Tests than he has played – though that was mostly due to injury. Chief selector Graeme Labrooy confirmed that he will not return to the Caribbean at all, and will be out of the third Test as well.
Gamage’s injury, meanwhile, was sustained on the the fifth morning in Port-of-Spain, when he was hit in the glove by Shannon Gabriel. Gamage had some on-field treatment and continued batting, finishing with a valiant 3 off 49 balls, as Sri Lanka attempted to save the Test.