Side strain set to rule Maheesh Theekshana out of Sri Lanka-Bangladesh match

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Mahela Jayawardene returns home after successful consultancy spell with team

Maheesh Theekshana is unlikely to be risked in Sri Lanka’s first Super 12s fixture against Bangladesh on Sunday after picking up a side injury during the eight-wicket win against Netherlands in Sharjah.

Theekshana, the mystery spinner, took two wickets for three runs in his only over to reduce Netherlands to 20 for 3 but left the field holding his side, with Dhananjaya de Silva spending the rest of the innings deputising as a substitute fielder. Theekshana was seen receiving treatment in the dressing room and is likely to miss the Bangladesh fixture.

“The physios have said the decision might be probably to leave him for the next game,” Bhanuka Rajapaksa, the middle-order batter, said. “We don’t want to risk it by playing him and then him not playing in the rest of the series. For the moment he will be missing the next game as far as I know. It’s not 100% decided yet, but most probably, he will miss the first game and then play the rest of the games.”

Sri Lanka’s bowling attack has been a key component of their success in the tournament so far – they have bowled teams out for 96, 101 and 44 – and Rajapaksa hailed the combination of Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara‘s high pace and Theekshana and Wanindu Hasaranga‘s spin. He also said that Sri Lanka were prepared to face “much harder sides” than they had in the preliminary phase.

“I think it’s such a benefit having two bowlers who are bowling above 90mph. Any batsman, they get shook because bowling at 145 [kph] plus and not having any room, just bowling good areas, it’s always difficult as a batsman to get over.

“I think at the same time, the spinners have been extremely good for us, and they’ve been sticking to their basics, and that’s one of the reasons why we have been winning throughout this tournament.

“It’s always special to win games, whether it’s playing against Associate teams or whether it’s against good teams. Going forward, I think we’ll be facing much harder sides than Netherlands, Ireland and Namibia, [but I’m] extremely happy that Namibia went through because being an Associate side. I think they played some good cricket, as well. Going forward this is some good confidence for the boys.”

Mahela Jayawardene, who has been with the squad as a consultant coach, will fly home before the Super 12s as intended but has had a clear influence on the side, having masterminded the decisions to use Avishka Fernando as a No. 4 and to promote Hasaranga to No. 5 in the win against Ireland.

“It’s tough: I just counted that I have been 135 days in quarantine and bubbles since June and I am on my last legs,” he told Sri Lankan reporters in the UAE on Thursday. “But I totally understand and I told them I will be with the group with the technology that we have. I hope that anyone can understand that being a father that I haven’t seen my daughter for that many days. I definitely need to get back home.”

Rajapaksa said: “He is a father and he has not seen his kids for like almost six months now, and we totally understand that, but we wish that he was with us for the rest of the tournament, as well.

“But yes, he has made us a plan already. He had taken about 14, 15 hours yesterday with analysing and made some plans, but yeah, via Zoom, whatever internet connection we can get through, we will be dealing with him.

“The presence of him, I don’t need to comment about it. Everyone has seen the difference of the side. We are very thankful for the effort he has put into this squad, and we want to work with him in the future, as well.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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