Selection Committee Chairman Kapila Wijegunawardene said that he would simply disregard school ties and pick the man in form when doing his duty as a selector.
“Even though Kaushal Silva is from my own school, I had to drop him due to his recent poor form. When you are performing national duties you should perform the best for your country. Other elements come second. You should pick the best guy. This is how it should be because after all you represent 20 million people and their faith is in your hands.
“Udara Jayasundara is a very stylish left handed top order batsman and a very exciting prospect for Sri Lanka cricket in the future. We pick players on their talents and purely on merit, nothing else interests us. Which school he comes from or where he comes from is immaterial,” said Wijegunawardene when referring to the new entry to the side, Jayasundara, who hails from a rural area called Minuwangoda.
Keeping up to his reputation, Udara Jayasundara, opening the innings against the New Zealand Board President XI, led the Sri Lankans’ second innings by scoring a solid 153-ball 63 runs and pressed his chances of making his debut in the Test series as an opener in Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand. He put up a brilliant 108-run partnership for the second wicket with Kithruwan Withanage, who, coming in at one drop, scored a well compile 61 off 109 balls. Skipper Mathews made an unbeaten 54, Chandimal chipped in with 29 while Kusal Perera and Kusal Mendis were dismissed for low scores for the second time in the match. In Sri Lankans first innings, inform opener Dimuth karunarathna scored a sensational 93 runs while Jayasundara coming in at number three scored 21 runs. Vice Captain Rangana Herath chipped in with a fighting knock of 34 runs enabling them to score 193 all out.
New Zealand Board President XI declared at 399 for 8. Rookie speedster Dushmantha Chameera took 4 for 57 in a fiery spell of fast bowling where he reached 150 kmph and troubled almost all the kiwi batsmen who struggled against sheer speed.
Speaking about the injury to frontline fast bowler Dammika Prasad who has returned home from New Zealand tour due to a back injury, he said, “We have got a good crop of faster bowlers. I should say we have about seven at present and all this credit should go to our head of fast bowling coach Anusha Samaranayaka who undertook a huge work load. This enabled us to put these speedsters in correct shape”. Young lanky left arm seamer Vishwa Fernando left to join the squad in New Zealand last Monday to replace the injured Prasad.
Talking about Sri Lanka’s present head coach Jerome Jayarathna, his onetime teammate at both S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia as well as at Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) he said, “I’m really comfortable and happy with Jerome because he got this thing to perfection because the guy knows the system well. He has been in this for the past 15 years. His handling this with responsibility brought in credibility. His contract is extended till next year’s T20 World Cup in India. I’m sincerely happy for him, since he is an honest, hard worker and a go getter.”
“I am confident that due to the enormous commitment and hard work we put in I’m backing our team to emerge victorious in the Test series against New Zealand in Kiwi land,” concluded Wijegunawardene.