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Strong Sri Lanka squad takes wing to South Africa

ICC U19 CRICKET WORLD CUP 2020

Buoyed by winning the Tri-Series Tournament in the West Indies recently, a very hopeful 15-member Sri Lanka Under-19 squad for the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup took wing to South Africa on Thursday night. The world cup from  January 17 to February 9, will see Sri Lanka, drawn in Group A, play their opening match against reigning champions India on January 19 at Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein.

Their next two matches will be against New Zealand on January 22 at the same venue and minnows Japan on January 25 at the North-West University No.1 Ground, Potchefstroom respectively. They will play two practice matches against South Africa on January 12 and Pakistan on January 14 respectively. Sri Lanka will have to win at least two of their first round matches to make it to the second stage of the tournament. 

Skippered by former Joseph Vas, Wennappuwa product, Sri Lanka comprises of quite a strong combination of players in all three departments of the game. What has fired up the imagination of the players has been Sri Lanka’s comprehensive 77-run triumph over a strong England outfit in the final of the Tri-Nation Tournament in the Caribbean especially having been beaten by them in a preliminary match.

Both Skipper Nipun Dananjaya and Head Coach Hashan Tillekeratne, the former Sri Lanka top notch middle order batsman of 1995-96 world cup fame, were quite positive that they had the

right balance to make an impact. Skipper Dananjaya said, “I have a very good team at my disposal and what has raised our confidence is our title triumph in the West Indies. Our confidence has risen following our win over a strong England in the West Indies. Importantly, we have worked hard on lots of strategies on which to mount our world cup campaign.”

Head Coach Hashan Tillekeratne, responding to a question by srilankasrilankacricket.lk said, “Definitely the players confidence level has soared having beaten a formidable England which is a big factor, and we have mapped out a comprehensive plan based on so many areas to launch our world cup campaign.

We will play to our strength which has been fine honed to peak level. The batting is in good nick. We played an extra top order batsman in the West Indies which has given us a good insight on how to approach the world cup. Our preparations have been solid which included a 4-day residential camp in Dambulla on the challenges ahead focusing on wickets prepared to South African conditions where the pitches are very bouncy. We have right arm medium pacie Matheesha Pathirana as a hidden trump card whom we did not play in the recent tour because we did not want opposing teams to get a feel of his bowling. He performed well in the Bangladesh tour.”

Tillekeratne went on to emphasise that similarly the focus had been on conditioning the players mentally for the challenging tour.

“Much attention was paid to attuning the players mental capacity to face whatever situation and come on top,” he said. 

Meanwhile, at the outset, Team Manager, Farveez Maharoof, the former Sri Lanka fast bowler said, “The win in the West Indies has done the players confidence factor much good.

We trained hard at a 4-day residential camp from January 3 to 6 at Dambulla where importantly it was a technical workout. I must say the squad’s confidence level is very high.”

SRI LANKA SQUAD:

Nipun Dananjaya (Capt.), Navod Paranavithana,Kamil Mishara, Ahan Wickremesinghe, Sonal Dinusha, Ravindu Rashantha, Mohammed Shamaaz, Thaveesha Abhishek, Chamindu Wijesinghe, Ashen Daniel, Dilum Sudeera, Kavindu Nadeeshan, Dilshan Madushanka, Matheesha Pathirana, Amshi De Silva.

By Srian Obeyesekere

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