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Sri Lanka's youngsters give 'good headache' to selectors
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Sri Lanka's youngsters give 'good headache' to selectors

Sri Lanka Cricket chief selector Ashantha de Mel has lavished praise on the younger crop of players for setting up a thumping 3-0 win in the T20I series against top-ranked Pakistan and admitted their impressive performances had given the selectors a "good headache".

Sri Lanka agreed to tour Pakistan for six limited-overs fixtures despite the refusal of ten players to travel to the country.

The presence of fringe players in the squad, however, did not deter the inexperienced Sri Lankan unit led by Dasun Shanaka as they defeated Pakistan in all three T20I matches.

With the upcoming Sri Lanka tour of Australia expected to commence on October 27, de Mel felt some of the senior players warming the bench would have to vacate their spot in the side to make way for the young lot that impressed against Pakistan.

"It is a good headache to have. Earlier, we had the problem of selecting. Now, we have 12-13 players vying for the six places, especially in the batting department."

"I was impressed with the youngsters who made use of the opportunity with both hands. Bhanuka [Rajapaksa] was debuting and Oshada [Fernando] also debuted and they played out of their skins," the 60-year-old added.

"We have watched these players before, but to come out and perform against the best T20I side in the world was amazing."

'Oshada reminds me of Mahela'

Rajapaksa smashed a 48-ball 77 in the second game while Fernando struck a belligerent 78 from 48 deliveries to guide his side to victory in the subsequent encounter on Wednesday.

Delighted with the prospect of unearthing a batting gem, de Mel compared Fernando to former skipper Mahela Jayawardene for his proclivity towards hitting the ball in the extra cover region.

"The way Oshada batted, he reminded me of Mahela, just placing it over cover, very risk-free batting.

"As a chief selector, I was happy because we were able to give these guys a chance. Sometimes what happens is we take them on the tour but are not able to actually give them a chance."

There thus might be changes expected in the line-up for the three T20Is in Australia given the emergence of several talented players.

"I had told the guys who did not go if the ones who go and perform, then one or two of the players who did not tour will have to be dropped because we have to select in-form cricketers," de Mel warned.