Chamari Atapattu to lead 17-member Sri Lankan squad in ICC World Cup Qualifiers

Sri Lanka team celebrating ©ICC

With the Pakistan tour not going through due to logistic issues at the hosts’ end, Sri Lanka Cricket has announced a 17-member squad for the ICC ODI World Cup Qualifiers. Five players have been included in the reserves as stand by.

Chamari Atapattu will lead the team in the global qualifier in Zimbabwe, which is scheduled to begin on November 21. Sri Lanka will go into the tournament with only a few intra-squad and domestic matches under their belt, as they are yet to play international cricket since their appearance in the 2020 T20 World Cup.

However, coach Hashan Tillakaratne is backing the team to make the top three in the qualifiers and travel to New Zealand for the ODI World Cup in February 2022.

Speaking to Daily Ft, Tillakaratne said that the team management needs to do a bit of fine-tuning in the lead up to the Qualifiers. “The way the players have improved and the way they are playing, I am sure we can finish within the first three and qualify for the World Cup,” he was quoted saying to the Sri Lankan Newspaper.

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Earlier, it was reported that Sri Lanka might travel to Pakistan for three ODIs after England pulling out of the tour. However, it seems like the proposal did not go through due to logistical reasons. Currently, Sri Lanka Cricket is trying to organise a 50-over tournament with two other local sides. If the plan does not go through, their preparation will solely depend on intra-squad matches.

The 17-member squad comprises some young talents who have made their mark in domestic cricket. The youngest in the squad is Vishmi Gunaratne. The 16-year-old is a fast bowler and opening batter from Ratnavali Balika Vidyalaya, Gampaha and Seenigama Ladies CC. She rose to fame with her swashbuckling hundred against Atapattu’s Chilaw Marians team. The 21-year-old Imesha Dulani, a right-hand batter from Devapathiraja College and Seenigama Ladies CC, and left-arm wrist-spinner Sachini Nisansala have also made it to the squad.

Sri Lanka will compete with Pakistan, West Indies, Bangladesh, Ireland, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, USA, Netherlands and Zimbabwe, and the top three teams will qualify for the ODI World Cup in New Zealand early next year.

Squad: Chamari Atapattu (C), Harshitha Madavi (VC), Inoka Ranaweera, Nilakshi de Silva, Hasini Perera, Sugandika Kumari, Oshadi Ranasinghe,  Ama Kanchana, Udeshika Prabodhani, Achini Kulasuriya, Anushka Sanjeewani, Kavisha Dilhari, Tharika Sewwandi, Prasadani Weerakkody, Imesha Dulani, Vishmi Gunaratne, Sachini Nisansala

Reserves: Umesha Thimashini, Kawya Kavindi, Madushika Meththananda, Sathya Sandeepani, Lihini Apsara