It will be a quick turnaround for the Sri Lanka under 19 cricket team after their disastrous tour of Bangladesh. They are embarking on a tour of West Indies where they will play a tri-nation series that the hosts will be involved along with England. This will be their final preparations before the World Cup [...]


World Cup in focus as Sri Lanka look to rectify their mistakes in West Indies


Farveez Maharoof--a selector cum manager of the Sri Lanka U-19 team

It will be a quick turnaround for the Sri Lanka under 19 cricket team after their disastrous tour of Bangladesh. They are embarking on a tour of West Indies where they will play a tri-nation series that the hosts will be involved along with England. This will be their final preparations before the World Cup to be held in South Africa in January.

This tour will be important for Nipun Dananjaya and his team to rectify the mistakes that they had done in Bangladesh, according to the Under 19 Tour manager Farveez Maharoof.

“If you analyze our performance in Bangladesh, we did reasonably well in the youth Test series, but during the one-day series we struggled. The main reason for that is the lack of maturity,” Maharoof said during an interview with the Sunday Times.

Furthermore he highlighted the fact that the team did not play to their potential and the batsmen did not take the responsibility throughout the series. As a result they were not able to put any pressure on the opposition.

Throughout the series the openers did not score a lot of runs. Apart from Navod Paranawithana, none of the batsmen were consistent. They will be testing out some new players during the West Indies tour.

This tour will be an ideal opportunity for the three teams as they look to finalise the teams for the World Cup and have an idea about the formation of the squad. However, the team combination will change according to the conditions, according to Maharoof.

Nipun Dananjaya will captain the team in West Indies and is set to lead Sri Lanka in the World Cup next year. The skipper has not been able to lead from the front in the recent past, but Maharoof is hopeful that Dananjaya will bounce back strongly.

The team will play six group matches in West Indies (seven if they qualify to the final).

Wicket keeper batsman Kamil Mishara and top order batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe have been recalled to the squad after being left out from the Bangladesh tour.

Maharoof highlighted the need of playing fearless cricket, since with the World Cup on the horizon, the players are too concerned about their places and are not playing according to their potential.

“In the recently concluded Bangladesh series we observed that the players are playing for a place in the WC squad. If they score runs consistently they will be in the squad. They need to concentrate on improving their game rather than playing for a WC spot,” he said.

On the other hand, Maharoof urged the players that they should continue to improve on their fielding although he was satisfied with their display.

When it comes to a sport such as cricket, the mind plays a vital role. During the recently concluded tour, most of the batsmen gifted their wickets away, as a result of their inability to hold their nerve in pressure situations.

The conditions they will encounter in West Indies will be similar to South Africa where pace and bounce will be prominent factors.

Fast bowling will be an important component over the course of the tournament, as the pitches do have pace and bounce. Dilshan Madushanka has been the trump card for Sri Lanka and his performances will be crucial in West Indies.

As the WC squad is yet to be finalized it is important that the players show their skills and talents in the upcoming tour. The batsmen will be under the spotlight as they look to counter the pace and bounce. This tour will be a rehearsal for the batsmen and if they can be successful, it will boost the confidence for the WC.

School cricket is known as the cradle for young cricketers and Sri Lanka’s school cricket structure is one of the best in the world. But yet Sri Lanka has been struggling to win an Under-19 WC to date.

Expressing his thoughts about this prolonged problem, Maharoof said: “According to my point of view Sri Lanka has the best school cricket structure in the world, but the standard of cricket that is being played is not up to the required standard. Those days, we have seen players such as Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama, Aravinda de Silva, and many others along with me played for the national team straight after school. Unfortunately for some reason, we don’t see that happening today.”

He stressed about the need to improve the school cricket structure, so that there will be a competition for places in the national team. “If the responsible authorities don’t address this problem, Sri Lanka cricket will struggle in future to compete at international level,” he said.

He also commended the Bangladesh under 19 players for showing positive intent and the ability to hold their nerve under pressure. “The main reason for their series victory is that the players have exposure at first class level. On the other hand, our players do not get the opportunity to play first class cricket and the lack of exposure was seen during the recent tour in Bangladesh,” he pointed out.

“In my opinion the level of competiveness at the under 19 level is not the greatest because they should be able to cope up the pressure and that’s where we tend to struggle. Even though they are scoring heaps of runs at school level, they fail to replicate those performances at international under 19 level. We need to improve. One must remember that we are playing against another country not against another school,” said the former Sri Lanka allrounder.

On a brighter note, Maharoof praised the head coach Hashan Tillakaratne. He commended Hashan’s efforts in taking this young team forward and said that if they can win the World Cup it will be a historic moment in Sri Lanka cricket.

“My advice is that, we have to play our brand of cricket, be consistent, play our natural game, play competitive cricket and our aim is to do well in West Indies and carry the momentum in to the World Cup and make our nation proud,” said Maharoof.

Sri Lanka U19 Squad for Youth World Cup: Nipun Dananjaya (Captain- St. Joseph Vaz), Kamil Mishara (Royal), Kavindu Nadeeshan (Dharmasoka), Dilum Sudeera (Richmond), Navod Paranavithana (Mahinda), Yasiru Rodrigo (S. Thomas’), Chamindu Wijesinghe (Nalanda), Lakshan Gamage (St. Joseph’s), Chamindu Wickramasinghe (St. Anthony’s, Kandy), Ravindu Rashantha (S. Thomas’), Amshi de Silva (Richmond), Dilshan Madusanka (Vijayaba NS, Hungama), Rohan Sanjaya (Tissa Central, Kalutara), Matheesha Pathirana (Trinity), Avishka Lakshan (Kalutara Vidyalaya), Naveen Fernando (Maris Stella), Sonal Gamage (Mahanama), Ashain Daniel (St. Joseph’s), Ahan Wickramasinghe (Royal)

The final squad for the World Cup will be selected after the tri-series.


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