Injured Theekshana out of Asia Cup final, will be fit for World Cup

Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana has been ruled out of the final of the men’s Asia Cup against India because of a hamstring injury, but he will “definitely be ready” for the World Cup starting next month. Theekshana injured himself in Sri Lanka’s last-ball win against Pakistan.

While captain Dasun Shanaka said Theekshana had a grade three injury, the chair of SLC’s medical committee said the bowler did not have a big tear and could have even been risked for the final on Sunday had a World Cup not been around the corner. The Sri Lanka selectors have, meanwhile, added Sahan Arachchige into the squad in place of Theekshana, who will return to the high performance centre to commence rehabilitation work.

“The MRI scan is showing a tear – not a big tear,” Professor Arjuna de Silva, chair of SLC medical committee said. “Clinically Theekshana is okay though. He’s moving around and not feeling too much pain. He’ll definitely be ready for the World Cup. Actually if we didn’t have a World Cup coming up, we would have somehow tried to get him ready for tomorrow’s match. But we don’t want to take that risk. “

Theekshana had hurt his right hamstring while sliding near the boundary against Pakistan on Thursday and was tended to by the physio. He still continued to bowl three more overs, hobbling to his bowling mark and seemingly dragged his right leg to the bowling crease as he ran in.

He dished out a few half-trackers but was unlucky when an lbw appeal against Iftikhar Ahmed was not given. While he was getting his right hamstring attended to beyond the rope thereafter, he slammed the turf as the big screen returned three reds in the replays with ball-tracker after Sri Lanka decided against the review. He returned to bowl two more overs before being helped off the field.

Sri Lanka could look to bring legspinner Dushan Hemantha into the XI in place of Theekshana for the final. Hemantha has so far played only two ODIs but is also a decent option with the bat with three first-class centuries and one List A hundred.

With 31 wickets in ODIs, Theekshana is Sri Lanka’s most successful bowler in 2023. He is level with India’s Kuldeep Yadav and Nepal’s Karan KC and only Sandeep Lamichhane has more. With Wanindu Hasaranga already out of the Asia Cup with injury, Theekshana was key for Sri Lanka, especially since he also bowls with the new ball.

Theekshana is now the latest in a long line of injured players for Sri Lanka, with fast bowlers Dushmantha Chameera, Lahiru Kumara and Dilshan Madushanka all missing the Asia Cup in addition to Hasaranga.

With additional inputs from Andrew Fidel Fernando