Sri Lanka skipper Upul Tharanga was given a two-match suspension for his team's slow over rate in the second one-day global against India in Pallekele on Thursday, the worldwide Cricket Council said. Stand-in captain Chamara Kapugedera along with batsmen Niroshan Dickwella and Milinda Siriwardana will look to play a key role in the batting department.
Andy Pycroft, the match referee, found Sri Lanka three overs short of its target and imposed the suspension. "We wanted someone who can hold his place in the side as well".
Interim coach Nic Pothas, whose days are also expectedly numbered as Sri Lanka might opt for a home-grown coach after this series, reportedly doesn't see eye-to-eye with the team management, albeit he was forced to retract his strong words of previous criticism.
The incident occurred in the 33rd over of India's innings when Gunathilaka dived at point and landed heavily on his shoulder.
With Gunathilaka likely to miss the remainder of the ODI series, it presents Thirimanne with a golden opportunity to prove his worth and perhaps even cement his place in the ODI squad.
The 28-year-old Thirimanne has played in 107 ODIs and will provide experience to the batting group, although his last global appearance in the 50-over format came in January 2016.
Sri Lanka are trailing 2-0 in the five-match ODI series at home, and losing their captain for the crucial third game is the last thing they needed right now.