Chandimal had a horrid time in Australia where Sri Lanka were battered in the two Tests Getty

Sri Lanka have sprung a surprise by dropping Dinesh Chandimal for the South Africa Tests. Opener Dimuth Karunaratne has been appointed as the stand-in skipper for the two-match Test series.

While announcing the 17-man squad, the SLC revealed that Chandimal has been asked to return to Sri Lanka so that he can play domestic cricket and regain his form ahead of the future international assignments. Former skipper Angelo Mathews continues to be absent from the squad after injuring his hamstring in New Zealand by the end of 2018.

Chandimal had a horrid time in Australia where Sri Lanka were battered in the two Tests. In four innings, Chandimal made only 24 runs while batting at No. 3 as his side completely surrendered to the Australian pace attack, crossing 200 just once in the entire series. 32-year-old opener Kaushal Silva has returned to the squad after scoring two massive double centuries in first-class cricket.

Apart from this, the selectors have also made five more changes to the squad. Roshen Silva, who played one Test each in New Zealand and Australia, has been left out with Sadeera Samarawickrama also getting the boot despite not featuring in any of their four recent overseas Test matches.

Pacers Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara and senior spinner Dilruwan Perera have also been axed with the selectors picking some new faces for the challenging tour. Allrounder Milinda Siriwardana, batsmen Oshada Fernando and Angelo Perera, seamer Mohamed Shiraz and left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya are the five replacements. Out of these five, only Siriwardana has played Test cricket so far with his most recent appearance in the format coming in May 2016.

Sri Lanka will hope that the likes of Fernando and Perera can arrest their recent batting slump. Fernando hit two fifties and three centuries, including a double hundred in his last three first-class games whereas Perera made headlines after smashing two double centuries in a single first-class game.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella has been named the vice-captain. The first Test will be played in Durban, starting from February 13 with the second Test scheduled to be played in Port Elizabeth from February 21. The island nation will also play five ODIs and three T20Is following the Tests.

Squad: Dimuth Karunaratne (C), Niroshan Dickwella, (VC), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya De Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya