Sri Lanka look to make a mark in inaugural U19 Women’s T20 World Cup

ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023

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Image Courtesy Shashikala Siriwardene (Coach)

Sri Lanka U19s are all set to commence their T20 World Cup campaign on the 14th of January, as the inaugural tournament kicks off in South Africa.

The Squad

Vishmi Gunaratne (c), Dahami Sanethma, Umaya Rathnayake, Rashmi Nethranjalee, Rashmika Sewwandi, Dewmi Vihanga, Manudi Nanayakkara, Sumudu Nisansala, Pamoda Shaini, Vidushika Perera, Dulanga Dissanayake, Rishmi Sanjana, Nethmi Senarathne, Harini Perera, Vihara Sewwandi

Warmup Results

Sri Lanka had a good run ahead of the tournament, beating both the UAE and Scotland in the two official warm-up games.

In both games, the spinners showed the way, with Vidushika Perera and Dewmi Vihanga doing the bulk of the wicket-taking. The left-arm orthodox – right-arm off-spin combination worked well for Sri Lanka as the pair picked up 13 wickets between them. Notably, Sri Lanka managed to bowl out their opposition in both games, which will no doubt give them plenty of confidence going into the tournament.

In terms of batting, opener Nethmi Senarathna made an impressive half-century against the UAE, while skipper Vishmi Gunaratne got some much-needed runs under her belt in the 2nd game against Scotland. However, Sri Lanka will be disappointed they didn’t cross the 100-run mark while batting first, something they will want to improve on in the tournament.

Key Players

Gunaratne will obviously be the one to watch for Sri Lanka, having already played limited overs cricket for the senior team. The right-hander has a somewhat new role in this team, batting at No. 3, as opposed to opening, where she will be expected to bat through the innings. Sri Lanka will rely on her to put the opposition under pressure, which they will hope will in turn help the other batters make their mark unnoticed.

Apart from Gunaratne, Senarathna, Perera and Vihanga come into the tournament after good showings in the warmups, while all-rounder Manudi Nanayakkara and wicketkeeper Sumudu Nisansala are two more to have an eye on after impressing in the quadrangular series in India last November.

Strengths & Weaknesses

As it is the case with the senior side, this team’s strength does also seem to be in the bowling, particularly the spin-bowling department. That will be the main weapon they will depend on in the tournament as they look to keep opposition down to totals around the 100-run mark.

In terms of batting, again like the senior side, there does seem to be a problem with conceding too many dots. Though the top three, Senarathna, Nisansala and Gunaratne are capable of scoring at a decent rate, there is a tendency to get bogged down overall, an issue Head Coach Shashikala Siriwardene will no-doubt be aware of.

Schedule & Opposition

Sri Lanka will compete in Group A in the first round of competition, facing the USA, Bangladesh and Australia.

January 14 v USA, Willowmoore Park B Field, Benoni
January 16 v Bangladesh, Willowmoore Park B Field, Benoni
January 18 v Australia, Willowmoore Park, Benoni

The USA didn’t start well in their warm-ups, going down by 45 runs to Scotland, who they conceded 135 to. However, they were pretty impressive against the UAE, where they managed 122 batting first, before completing a 31-run win.

Bangladesh might potentially be the banana skin for Sri Lanka in the 1st round. The Tigers completed two narrow wins in the warm-ups, beating the hosts South Africa by 7 runs (DLS) and then shocking one of the pre-tournament favourites India by 3 runs.

Australia are likely to be the top side in the group, despite going down to the Indians in their 1st warm-up game, where they failed to chase down 97. They beat the hosts by 8 wickets in the next game but will come into the tournament with a reputation to live up to, considering the incredible record of their senior team in World tournaments.

Expectations

With this being the very first global age group tournament in the women’s game, there is very little to go by in terms of records, making predicting results a compete lottery. However, given the pathways that exist in countries like India, Australia and England, it would be difficult to expect Sri Lanka to go all the way in the tournament.

A more realistic goal would probably be to make it through to the Super 6 Round of the competition, where they will get a further 3 games against the top 3 teams from Group D, featuring India, South Africa, Scotland and UAE.

They would expect to qualify as A2 or A3, with wins over Bangladesh and USA, but are capable of causing an upset against Australia too, given Gunaratne fires.