Chamari Atapattu has been named skipper of a new-look Sri Lanka squad for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia beginning on February 21. As many as four senior players, who were part of the squad that recently toured Australia, have been left-out – Inoka Ranaweera, the left-arm spinner, Yasoda Mendis, the top-order batter, Oshadi Ranasinghe and Inoshi Fernano, the two off-spinners. They have been replaced by the quartet of Hasini Perera, Kavisha Dilhari, Umesha Thimashini and uncapped Sathya Sandeepani.
Sandeepani, the 20-year-old pace-bowling allrounder, picked up 10 wickets and scored a total of 147 runs – including a best of 96 not out against Maldives in the South Asian Games in Pokhara – for the Sri Lanka Emerging side, and will likely add great depth to the team’s rather bare cabinet of seamers. She will enjoy the company of senior pacers, Udeshika Prabodhani, the gentle left-armer, Ama Kanchana, the slingy right-armer, Achini Kulasuriya and Nilakshi de Silva, the two part-time right-arm seamers.
Dilhari, the 19-year-old who made her T20I debut against India in 2018, returns to the international side after putting in promising performances for the Emerging side. She is one of a host of off-spinners who will combine to form an spin-heavy bowling attack. Siriwardene, Atapattu and Thimashini all bowl off-spin, with Sugandika Kumari the only tweaker who takes the ball away from the bat.
Perera, the left-hand top-order batter who has five-and-a-half years of international experience under her belt has been recalled to the T20I side after a gap of almost 12 months. She featured in the Emerging Asia Cup at home, but only managed a total of 26 runs in three one-day matches. Alongside teenager Umesha Thimashini, the 24-year-old will be expected to provide stability to a batting order that will no doubt rely heavily on Atapattu and Shahikala Siriwadene.
Harshitha Madavi, the newly appointed vice-captain of the squad,
Anushka Sanjeewani, Perera and Dilani Manodara will shore up the middle order,
while Nilakshi, the bit-hitting allrounder, will provide the power at the
back-end of the innings.
Sri Lanka will be hoping that their recent experience of playing
in Australia will hold them in good stead in the big tournament. They are
placed in Group A alongside hosts Australia, Bangladesh, India and New Zealand,
and are set to kick off their campaign against New Zealand in Perth on February
Atapattu (c), Harshitha Madavi, Anushka Sanjeewani, Hansima Karunaratne, Shashikala
Siriwardene, Nilakshi de Silva, Ama Kanchana, Kavisha Dilhari, Udeshika
Probodhani, Achini Kulasuriya, Hasini Perera, Sathya Sandeepani, Umesha
Thimashini, Sugandika Kumari, Dilani Manodara.