Sri Lanka ready for U-19 Asia Cup and U-19 World Cup

Tuesday, 14 December 2021 00:43 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Back-to-back series wins over Bangladesh and England

The Player of the Match in each of the five Under-19 ODIs receiving their awards from Match Referee Priyantha Udayaratne 

Joshua Boyden (England U-19) – 1st ODI

Pawan Pathiraja (Sri Lanka U-19) – 2nd ODI

Dunith Wellalage (Sri Lanka U-19) – 3rd ODI

Raveen de Silva (Sri Lanka U-19) – 4th ODI

Tom Prest (England U-19) – 5th ODI


Having completed two successful Under-19 series against Bangladesh and England, Sri Lanka Under-19 Head Coach Avishka Gunawardene was confident that Sri Lanka were more than ready for the Under-19 Asia Cup in the UAE and the Under-19 ICC World Cup in the Caribbean.

Sri Lanka thrashed Bangladesh, the reigning Under-19 World Cup champions 5-0, and followed it up with a 3-2 win over England in the five-match Under-19 series that concluded last week.

“The cricket these guys have been playing in the last couple of months shows that they are ready, it’s just the tactical part of it, how we quickly adjust ourselves to the conditions and execute the plans according to the different opposition,” Gunawardene told Daily FT.  

“At this level, every game you learn something. We had only three months to prepare for the U-19 Asia Cup and the U-19 World Cup and we had only two tours, within that period we had to do a lot of work and we have come quite far.”

“I am quite satisfied with how things have worked out. I keep pushing the players to do better and there is always room for improvement. I think more or less we are there in our plans and we are on the right track. The good thing is the guys keep improving.”

The Sri Lankan squad, which is expected to be announced this week, are due to leave for the U-19 Asia Cup in the UAE on 20 December. The eight-team tournament is scheduled to be played from 23 December to 1 January with the matches taking place in Dubai and Sharjah. Sri Lanka are grouped with Kuwait, Nepal and Bangladesh, and have a very good chance of making it to the final. The other group comprises of India, Pakistan, UAE and Afghanistan.

The team that is picked for the U-19 Asia Cup will most probably be the same for the U-19 World Cup in the West Indies as Sri Lanka are due to fly from Dubai direct to the Caribbean at the end of the U-19 Asia Cup. The U-19 World Cup will be held from 14 January to 5 February with 16 teams participating. Sri Lanka are in Group D with Scotland, Australia and host country West Indies.

Expressing his thoughts on the recently concluded series against England Young Lions, Gunawardene said: “They were a very good side, but our bowling department was just too good for them. Our strength is our bowling and generally if you take any white-ball cricket game it is the bowlers who win the game for you. Our bowling unit has done very well from the Bangladesh series till now. The English team had about seven players who were playing first-class cricket in England, it is just that our boys surprised them with their good bowling.”   

Prior to the start of the England series, Sri Lanka had a few areas to solve, especially the wicketkeepers’ and the opening batsmen’s slots.     

“We have recognised who our no. 1 and no. 2 wicket-keepers are. Anjala Bandara is no. 1, and no. 2 is Sadeesh Jayawardena. The opening and no. 3 positions we have a pretty good idea of whom we want to bat, but it all depends on the composition of the side and the opposition. We have told the batsmen just to be ready to play anywhere at any given time, if the team needs someone to go up the order and bat. Numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the batting are quite concrete,” explained Gunawardene.

When it was pointed out that Sri Lanka had only the opening stand of fifty in the entire five-match series against England, Gunawardene’s response was: “Our strength is the middle order. If you look at our batting line up from no. 4 to 7 that’s where we are strong in our batting. It’s where the experience comes into the batting. Someone like Chamindu Wickremasinghe and Shevon Daniel should come good at some point. They are talented players, and they are stroke-makers. It’s just a matter of them converting the starts into good ones. It is also the inexperience. These are the little areas when it comes to mental aspects and tactical aspects which I have been working on and I need to work on a little bit more.”

Gunawardene is a great believer in picking specialist batsmen and bowlers and not half-baked players in his side. 

“The good thing of having a good bowling unit is that you can dominate the batsmen and take it away from them. A lot of teams tend to play half bowlers and half batters and a few all-rounders. In my team, the two all-rounders that I play are generally full bowlers although we call them all-rounders – the Captain (Dunith Wellalage) and Vice-Captain (Raveen de Silva). That is what makes the bowling unit very strong.” (ST)