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Sri Lanka back suspect spinner Dananjaya for Pallekele test

November 13, 2018
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England's Joss Buttler, right, runs between wickets as Sri Lanka's Akila Dananjaya watches during the first day of the first test cricket match between Sri Lanka and England, in Galle, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

KANDY, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka has backed Akila Dananjaya for the second test against England from Wednesday despite the offspinner being reported for a suspect bowling action.

Dananjaya was reported to the International Cricket Council by the match officials after the first test, in which he took two wickets in 38.5 overs. Sri Lanka lost by 211 runs. He’s eligible for the second test but needs to be tested within 14 days of being reported.

“I talked to him and said don’t worry about anything, just focus on this game,” Sri Lanka stand-in captain Suranga Lakmal said on Tuesday. “He’s bowled well in the past and he has to do that again. Getting reported is just another thing. Forget that and bowl well in this game.”

England captain Joe Root wasn’t worried about Dananjaya either.

“Ultimately, for us, we played him at Galle pretty well. Try to do the same this time round,” Root said. “If you see anyone with a question mark by their action, you hope they get through and it doesn’t hamper their career. Never nice to see.”

England confirmed it will play an unchanged side, and Ben Stokes would swap places with Moeen Ali to bat at No. 3, and Ali in the middle order. Ben Foakes, who made a man-of-the-match debut in Galle for injured wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow, was retained.

Bairstow remained on tour after hurting his ankle while playing football during the limited-overs leg.

Stuart Broad, who was left out of the Galle test as England banked on three spinners, was expected to play the second test, but the dry nature of the Pallekele pitch has resulted in the tourists sticking to three spinners.

England has not won a test series in Sri Lanka in 17 years, and is favored to do so.

Sri Lanka has been forced to make two changes.

Captain Dinesh Chandimal was nursing a hamstring injury and Roshen Silva looks set to bat. Charith Asalanka has come into the squad but was not expected to play in Kandy.

After Rangana Herath’s retirement following the Galle test, left-arm orthodox spinner Malinda Pushpakumara or left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan will fill Herath’s spot.

Sri Lanka has struggled at Pallekele since it became the new international ground in Kandy, after test cricket was taken away from Asgiriya in 2007. Sri Lanka has played six games here and won only one.

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