Sri Lanka defend Hasaranga's Test selection despite ban

Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga in action during the second one-day international (ODI) against Bangladesh in Chittagong last week (MUNIR UZ ZAMAN)
Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga in action during the second one-day international (ODI) against Bangladesh in Chittagong last week (MUNIR UZ ZAMAN)

Sri Lanka on Thursday defended the inclusion of all-rounder Wanindu Hasaranga in the Test squad for the two-match series against Bangladesh despite his suspension by the ICC.

The move allows Hasaranga to serve out his ban during the Bangladesh Tests -- and save himself for the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in June, Sri Lanka's next international fixture.

If he were not included in the squad for Bangladesh Tests, the Sri Lanka T20 captain would have to sit out the first four matches of the World Cup.

Hasaranga was on Monday criticised by umpires during the third one-day international against Bangladesh, when he snatched his cap from one and ridiculed him.

Later that day, the 26-year-old apparently ended his retirement from Test cricket and was included in Sri Lanka's 17-man Test squad.

On Tuesday, the International Cricket Council handed down the punishment after Hasaranga was found guilty of "showing dissent at an umpire's decision", earning him three demerit points.

This brought his total demerit points to eight in a 24-month period, which, according to ICC rules, was converted into four suspension points.

The four suspension points equate to a ban from two Tests or four ODIs or T20Is, whatever comes first.

But Sri Lanka's media manager, Mahinda Halangola, said on Thursday that Hasaranga's inclusion in the Test squad was not meant to help him serve out his ban before the World Cup.

Hasaranga had announced his retirement from Test cricket in August to prolong his limited-overs career.

But Halangola said Hasaranga had changed his mind and wrote a letter to the cricket board saying he "wants to play" Test cricket.

"The selectors thought about it and decided to select him for the Test series", he added.

This was Hasaranga's second suspension in less than a month, after he was suspended for two Twenty20 internationals for showing dissent at an umpire during the third T20 against Afghanistan in February.

The Test suspension means Hasaranga will also be available for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League from the start.

Sri Lanka’s two-Test series against Bangladesh starts on Friday in Sylhet.

str/sa/pjm/bsp