Just before the tough three-match Test series against world number one side India, Sri Lanka have suffered a huge blow as their newly-appointed captain Dinesh Chandimal has been ruled out of the first Test starting from July 26 at Galle and is also doubtful for the second Test. The 27-year old, who recently led Sri Lanka to a record win against Zimbabwe, was admitted to a hospital with pneumonia, Asanka Gurusinha, the team’s cricket manager, confirmed on Friday (July 21).

“We were actually only told late last night – the blood Test came a bit late. He’s got pneumonia,” he said. “He was admitted to hospital this morning at 9am, and he’s definitely out of the first Test.

“The doctors have advised us this morning to say: ‘Finish the first Test’ and they’ll advise us afterwards. If they tell us he needs another week to recover, that’s it. We can’t do anything.”

Veteran spinner Rangana Herath, who led Sri Lanka in four Tests in 2016-17 season, is most likely to lead the island nation in the absence of the regular skipper. Herath will be hoping to continue his form against Virat Kohli & Co. to help his inexperienced team perform well against the formidable visitors. The left-arm spinner recently picked up 11 wickets against Zimbabwe and leapfrogged Ravichandran Ashwin to become the second-ranked Test bowler in the world.

“Most probably the captain is going to be Rangana, because for now it’s just one Test, and he has done the job before,” Gurusinha said. “But we haven’t worked everything out. We will sit down and do that this afternoon.”

Chandimal’s absence, nevertheless, will be huge blow for the Sri Lankan team which has struggled to do well this year. Not only as a batsman, Chandimal’s experience would have also played a significant part in the series against the best side in the world. Sri Lanka have managed to win just 2 of the five Tests this year but there confidence would be boosted by the record win against Zimbabwe when they chased down 388.