In an unexpected twist to Sri Lankan cricket, star player Wanindu Hasaranga, who had previously announced his retirement from Test cricket, decided to return to the longest format just in time for the upcoming series against Bangladesh. However, the comeback trail hit an immediate roadblock as the International Cricket Council (ICC) imposed a suspension on Hasaranga, ruling him out of the two-Test series against Bangladesh.

Delays to his IPL season

The first Test was scheduled from March 22-26, but Hasaranga’s presence will be notably absent due to the ICC suspension that came as a result of disciplinary issues during the third One Day International (ODI) against the same opposition. During the match, Hasaranga displayed dissent against an umpire’s decision, an action which has now contributed to his recent ban from international Test cricket.

The suspension was not only a setback for Hasaranga’s international career but also had repercussions for the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024. SRH had acquired Hasaranga at his base price of ₹1.5 crore during the IPL auction, anticipating his leg-spin magic and dynamism would aid their campaign from the very start. However, with his suspension, Hasaranga will miss at least the first three fixtures for his team, which includes clashes against top-tier oppositions: Kolkata Knight Riders on March 23, Mumbai Indians on March 27, and Gujarat Titans on March 31.

Why the ban?

The disciplinary action stemmed from the accumulation of demerit points, with Hasaranga breaching the threshold of eight. This latest incident saw him fined 50 percent of his match fee and added three demerit points to his record, bringing his total to the fateful number eight. Kusal Mendis, the Sri Lankan captain, was caught up in a related incident and faced similar penalties with a 50 percent match fee fine and three demerit points for inappropriate behavior toward the umpiring officials during a post-match handshake.

What comes as a double hit for Sri Lankan cricket, both players – Hasaranga and Mendis – admitted their offenses and accepted the sanctions imposed by match referee Andy Pycroft, showing a semblance of responsibility post the fracas. For Hasaranga, this means a period on the sidelines when his country and his IPL franchise could have done with his talents on the field.

How will this affect SRH’s start?

Sunrisers Hyderabad would have to navigate the start of their IPL campaign without their fresh investment, but team management can be optimistic as Hasaranga is set to don the orange jersey post his suspension. Fans will anticipate an eager Hasaranga, looking to compensate for lost time and make an impactful return to competitive cricket. Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan cricket board will be considering their approach to player discipline, ensuring that the heat of the moment clashes do not thwart the career trajectories of promising talent in the future.

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