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Sri Lanka’s captain Dinesh Chandimal has been axed from the Test squad for the upcoming series against South Africa, Sri Lanka cricket said.

Dimuth Karunaratne has been named as stand-in captain following an announcement of the 17-member squad.

National selectors said Chandimal was dismissed to help him "regain his form and be ready for future international tours."

His sudden sacking came a day after he insisted his team could be more competitive in their upcoming tour against South Africa, following a 2-0 thrashing from Australia.

Under Chandimal, Sri Lanka lost the opening day-night Test in Brisbane by an innings and 40 runs inside three days and followed it up with a 366-run thrashing in the Canberra Test.

Besides the defeats in Australia, Sri Lanka also lost a home Test series to England 3-0 and suffered a 1-0 loss against New Zealand in an away series.

The first Test in South Africa starts on February 13, with the squad flying straight there from Australia this week in a gruelling overseas schedule.

"We are a young team and we are always learning how to play, especially in these tough conditions. We will bounce back in South Africa," Chandimal said in Australia.

"South Africa is similar to these conditions and with very good bowlers. We know that as a team we have to play in tough conditions and we need to adjust to those conditions and step up as a team."

Sri Lanka Test squad

Dimuth Karunaratne (stand-in captain), Niroshan Dickwella (vice captain), Lahiru Thirimanne, Kaushal Silva, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Janith Perera, Milinda Siriwardana, Dhananjaya de Silva, Oshada Fernando, Angelo Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Kasun Rajitha, Vishwa Fernando, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohamed Shiraz, Lakshan Sandakan and Lasith Embuldeniya