Sri Lanka has suffered a huge blow in its bid to square its two-test series against Australia after four cricketers tested positive for COVID-19 and had to be replaced.
In coronavirus tests on Wednesday, three players from the first test were positive: Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay, fast bowler Asitha Fernando, and allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva. Left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama was already in isolation after testing positive earlier in the week.
They were ruled out of the second test starting on Friday at Galle Stadium. Vandersay made his debut in the first test Australia won by 10 wickets in three days last week.
Sri Lanka added spinners Prabath Jayasuriya, Maheesh Theekshana, Lakshan Sandakan and Dunith Wellalage in the squad and two of them are expected to partner Ramesh Mendis, who played in the first test.
Apart from Sandakan, whose last test was in 2018, the other new additions were yet to play a test.
De Silva is likely to be replaced by squad member and backup batsman Kamindu Mendis.
The Sri Lankan camp will have another round of tests on Thursday, and skipper Dimuth Karunaratne feared more players will be withdrawn.
“It is very difficult to say the (team) combination,” Karunaratne said. “We have picked 13 players but before we select the final 11, we have another antigen test and from that we have to find whether there are any more positive cases. Only after that can we announce our playing 11.”
One piece of good news was former captain Angelo Mathews, who tested positive for COVID during the first test, has been cleared and will take part in the second test.