Domain Tests v Sri Lanka
Lankan tweaker's 10 ignites Test ambition
Malinda Pushpakumara's outstanding first-class form - including all 10 wickets in an innings in a recent match - has put him in the frame to meet the Aussies
7 January 2019, 10:22 AM AEST
Sri Lankan spinner Malinda Pushpakumara has put his hand up for their Test tour of Australia later this month by taking the best first-class figures in more than two decades, claiming all 10 wickets in a match in Colombo.
The left-arm spinner took 10-37 in Colombo Cricket Club's game against Saracens, the equal-13th best figures recorded in the history of first-class cricket.
The 31-year-old opened the bowling in Saracens' second innings and bowled unchanged for 18.4 overs to become the first man to take all 10 in an innings since Pakistan's Zulfiqar Babar in 2009-10.
It's the best figures ever recorded in Sri Lanka and the best worldwide since Pakistani Naeem Akthar took 10-28 in a domestic match in 1995-96.
Pushpakumara also took 6-73 in the first innings to finish with a match haul of 16-110.
The veteran, who also moved past 700 first-class wickets, took nine wickets in two Tests at home against England in November, but was overlooked for Sri Lanka's recent Test campaign in New Zealand.
Wrist-spinner Lakshan Sandakan was the second spinner in the squad to face the Black Caps behind frontline tweaker Dilruwan Perera, the world's most prolific spinner in 2018 with 50 wickets from 11 Tests.
Sandakan wasn't used in New Zealand but Pushpakumara, having now taken 37 wickets in just four first-class games since the England series, has built a strong case for a recall.
Sri Lanka will play a three-day tour match against a Cricket Australia XI in Hobart from January 17 before the first Test gets underway at the Gabba a week later.
Batting star Angelo Mathews looks set to miss at least the start of the series due to a hamstring injury he picked up in the second Test in New Zealand late last month.
Mathews was ruled out for up to four weeks, which means he's almost certain to miss the Gabba Test before the second Test at Manuka Oval in Canberra starts on February 1.
The former skipper has a long history of calf and hamstring injuries and it's yet to be determined exactly when he'll be fit to return to playing.
Sri Lanka have never won a Test match from 13 attempts in Australia, including a 0-3 whitewash on their most recent tour Down Under in 2012-13.
However, they beat Australia 3-0 on home soil in 2016.
Domain Test Series v Sri Lanka
Jan 24-28: First Test, Gabba (D/N)
Feb 1-5: Second Test, Canberra