Dambulla, June 22: Sri Lanka women’s skipper Chamari Athapaththu stated that her side will stick to their plans and aim to play positive cricket in the white-ball series against India, starting with the first T20I on Thursday.
The three-match T20I series, to be played in Dambulla from Thursday till June 27, will offer both India and Sri Lanka chances to finetune their combinations ahead of the women’s T20 event at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham from July 28-August 8.
After the T20I series, India and Sri Lanka will play three ODIs against each other, a part of the ICC Women’s Championship in Pallekele from July 1 to 7.
“This series is very good series for both teams. The ODI series is very important for both teams because we want to bag the points (in the ICC Women’s Championship) and the T20I series as well. We know Mithali (Raj) and Jhulan (Goswami) are not there, but Harman (Harmanpreet Kaur), Smriti Mandhana, Deepti (Sharma) and a lot of other experienced players are playing for India.”
“They have a good bunch of experienced players. We have good plans for them as we know each other well. We have played a lot of cricket against India, so we will stick to our plans and play positive cricket in this series,” said Chamari in a pre-match virtual press conference.
Chamari believes that her side has got the personnel and potential to defeat India in the white-ball series. “India has got experienced bowlers in Deepti (Sharma), Poonam (Yadav), Radha (Yadav) and Rajeshwari (Gayakwad). I know, they have not been in form over the last couple of months, but they can come back anytime to form. They know how to adjust to the conditions and manage themselves.”
“I think they will play good cricket but I have plans against them and will share those thoughts with the youngsters as well. This is a tough tour, but if we play to our potential, we can beat India. We will try our best to beat India.”
Sri Lanka last played a T20I series against Pakistan, where they lost 3-0. Asked about the areas of improvement for the hosts, Chamari pointed towards top-order batting and fielding. “We have to improve our batting especially as the top-order is very important in this format. We have quite a few young players, but the thing is they do not have experience, so this is their opportunity to showcase their talents in the format.”
“We have to improve our fielding as well because catches win matches. The main thing is batting, so the head coach and batting coach has been working on that area, and hopefully, we can improve on that area in this T20I series.”
Sri Lanka have a host of youngsters in their T20I squad against India, like leg spinner Rashmi de Silva and wicketkeeper-batter Kaushani Nuthyangana. But it is the inclusion of 16-year-old all-rounder Vishmi Gunaratne which has grabbed attention. Vishmi, who has already played four T20Is for Sri Lanka as part of Commonwealth Games Qualifiers event earlier this year, had missed the tour of Pakistan due to her exams.
“We have to play the Commonwealth Games in July and are leaving around 25th. So, this T20I series against India is really important for us as we didn’t get to play much games in last two years. To mention about Vishmi Gunaratne, she is a very up-and-coming cricketer. She’s still a schoolgirl but is playing very well at the domestic level. I am looking forward for her best performance in this series.”
“Our head coach Hashan Tillakaratne is a good coach. He was a good cricketer as well as a Test captain. So, he is guiding all the young girls because the young girls are very happy to learn. I am always sharing my knowledge with the youngsters and are creating a good environment for the young players in the side. I hope they will play good cricket. They enjoy every minute with the team as senior players are helping the youngsters a lot,” concluded Chamari.