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Sri Lanka skipper out for six weeks with back injury

Written by: Staff

COLOMBO, Mar 18 (Reuters) Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu will be out of action for at least six weeks after a back injury flared up in the washed out first one-day international against Pakistan yesterday.

Atapattu, 35, who was rested during the recent Bangladesh tour, will miss the rest of Pakistan's tour in a bid to regain full fitness in time for a tour of England that commences at the end of April.

Sri Lanka, having played non-stop cricket since last July, have been rocked by injuries in the last week, losing opener Sanath Jayasuriya as well pace bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Ruchira Perera.

''Marvan (Atapattu) has a large disc bulge in his lower back that is pushing on his nerve and giving him leg pain,'' Sri Lanka's physiotherapist Tommy Simsek told Reuters today.

''He was keen to play in this series but he felt pain again yesterday and we've decided that he needs to give himself enough time for rest and rehabilitation before the England tour.'' Atapattu's lower back has been causing him problems for months but Sri Lanka's non-stop schedule has forced him to play on despite pain during recent tours to India and Australia.

If the injury does not respond to rest, treatment and rehabilitation, Atapattu may be forced to consider surgery in a bid to prevent a premature retirement from the game.

''Tissues normally take six weeks to heal properly and he should have enough time (for the England tour), but if conservative treatment is not successful he may have to consider an operation,'' Simsek said.

''But you never want a player to go through surgery until you have explored all other options.'' Atapattu, expected to retire after the 2007 World Cup, is one of Sri Lanka's most successful batsman having scored 5330 runs at 38.90 in 88 tests and 8233 runs at 37.76 in 246 one-day internationals.

Mahela Jayawardene, the current vice-captain who during the recent Bangladesh tour, will captain Sri Lanka's injury depleted team in Atapattu's absence.


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