The last occasion an Under-19 team toured Sri Lanka was in May-June 2019 when Pakistan played a 5-match ODI series and won it by a 3-2 margin
- Sri Lanka Cricket resumes ‘A’ team and U-19 tours after COVID-19
By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Pakistan and Bangladesh will send their ‘A’ team and Under-19 team respectively for a cricket tour of Sri Lanka in October.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) CEO Ashley de Silva, confirming the two tours, said that Pakistan ‘A’ will play two four-day matches and three one-day limited-over games all in Dambulla, and Bangladesh Under-19 is scheduled to play five ODIs at the R. Premadasa Stadium.
The Under-19 ODIs will be part of Sri Lanka’s preparation for the Under-19 Asia Cup in Dubai in December and the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in January.
Sri Lanka last hosted an ‘A’ side in October 2019 when Bangladesh ‘A’ made a tour. The two unofficial tests played at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium – Hambantota ended in draws. Bangladesh won the three-match limited-over series 2-1.
The last occasion an Under-19 team toured Sri Lanka was in May-June 2019 when Pakistan Under-19 cricketers played a five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka Under-19 and won it by a 3-2 margin.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, ‘A’ team and Under-19 tours have seldom taken place with only the national team being involved in international engagements.
The visits by Pakistan ‘A’ and Bangladesh Under-19 will be the first series of their kind to take place in Sri Lanka since the pandemic, where strict health guidelines have to be adhered to and players have to undergo several PCR tests before and after going into quarantine.
At the beginning of the month, SLC appointed former Sri Lanka cricketer Avishka Gunawardene as the Head Coach of the Under-19 national team and former SSC cricketer Mahinda Halangoda as the Manager.
The Technical Advisory Committee has to appoint a Head Coach for the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team for the upcoming series against Pakistan ‘A’ as the nominated Head Coach Manoj Abeywickrama has been drafted into the senior side for the T20 World Cup. Ruwin Peiris is the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team batting coach, Dharshana Gamage – the fast bowling coach and Sajeewa Weerakoon – the spin bowling coach.
Five Players added to T20 World Cup Squad
Meanwhile, the national selectors have named five additional players to be part of Sri Lanka’s T20 World Cup squad, increasing the total strength from 19 to 23. The originally named squad of 19 (15+4) was reduced to 18 when all-rounder Lahiru Madushanka was ruled out with a fractured collar bone he suffered during the third T20I against South Africa last week.
The selectors have retained Kusal Perera, who is struggling to get fit after pulling a hamstring during the same match, and also brought in a further five players; namely, Lakshan Sandakan, Ramesh Mendis, Pathum Nissanka, Minod Bhanuka and Ashen Bandara.
The squad of 23, along with the support staff, underwent their first PCR test on Sunday with all returning negative. Results of the second PCR test done yesterday are still awaited. The squad and staff will move into Cinnamon Grand Hotel today to commence their period of quarantine before commencing practices from 24 September. Sri Lanka will not name their final 15 for the T20 World Cup until 10 October; the deadline set by ICC for all teams to finalise their teams.
The Sri Lanka team of 23 players along with the support staff are due to leave for Oman on 2 October where they will play two warm-up matches against the Oman national side on 7 and 9 October before playing a further two ICC-organised warm-up games on 12 and 14 October before commencing their T20 World Cup campaign on 18 October against Namibia. – (ST)