Sri Lanka Cricket confirmed that Wanindu Hasaranga had played through pain before his much-discussed unretirement from Test cricket.

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In August 2023, more than two years after his last Test match, Wanindu Hasaranga had announced his retirement from the format. A much sought-after cricketer in franchise leagues, his Test carer – four games, 196 runs at 28, four wickets at 101 – made ordinary reading. It did not seem an unusual move.

However, Sri Lanka then included him for their two-match Test series in Bangladesh earlier this month (March 2024). This meant that Hasaranga had reverted his decision – not a common phenomenon in Test cricket. That it coincided with the IPL, where he is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad, made it even more surprising. Sunrisers had acquired him for INR 1.5 crore.

The ICC had given Hasaranga three demerit points for violation of the Code of Conduct during the ODI series against the same opponents. The eight demerit points he accumulated over 24 months were enough to earn him a ban for two Tests or four ODIs or four T20Is.

Sri Lanka Men’s next international limited-overs assignment is the T20 World Cup. Were he to serve the ban, Sri Lanka would have been without their captain and biggest star for the entire group stage. His inclusion in the Test squad prevented that, leading to speculations that the entire episode of inclusion might have been deliberate

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SLC selection committee member Ajantha Mendis subsequently denied these speculations: “It was about two weeks ago that he told us he was open to playing Tests again. We know how it looks, but this decision was taken well before the final ODI.”

ESPNcricinfo has now reported that Hasaranga led Sri Lanka in the third T20I (he had been banned for the first two) and played three ODIs in Bangladesh “through substantial pain”.

The same report added: “Sri Lanka Cricket’s medical staff have assessed him, and suspect the pain is down to musculo-skeletal apparatus in his left heel having become worn. SLC’s doctors have asked Hasaranga to seek further medical opinion on the exact nature of the injury, and how best to manage it. He is expected to travel out of Sri Lanka to do so next week.”

This rules Hasaranga out of the IPL for at least another week. Sunrisers play Mumbai Indians at home on March 27, Gujarat Titans in Ahmedabad on March 31, and Chennai Super Kings at home on April 5.

It is not clear when Hasaranga was assessed. However, going by the date of Mendis’ statement, Hasaranga had expressed willingness to play Test cricket some time in the first week of March. Despite playing the subsequent limited-overs matches through pain, he did not opt out of the Test series after being selected.