Lankan team leaves for Women’s World Cup today

We are better prepared this time says coach Mendis

By Dhammika Ratnaweera

Sri Lanka women’s team captain Shashikala Siriwardene
(Pix by Thushara Dasanayake)

The Sri Lanka women’s cricket team will leave for Australia today for the World Cup cricket tournament scheduled to be held from March 7 to 22 in Sydney and Canberra. This time Sri Lanka are going there with much preparation and they also got good practice under the guidance of head coach Chitral Mendis and consultant coach Naveed Nawaz.
Mendis said that they had made good preparations for the World Cup and that his players were capable of performing well in all three departments.

“They got good match practice playing against boys under 15 sides before the World Cup. My task is to qualify for the semi-finals. If we do that it’s a great achievement for us. All my players have a good attitude and the team spirit is very high,” said Mendis.

“Our players are in good form especially the two openers Dedunu de Silva and Chamari Polgampola. We expect a lot from them. Shashikala Siriwardene is a good leader and she will also play a key role. If our openers get good starts we can build good totals against any opponent. Winning the first game against England is very important. We will take in step by step from there onwards,” he said.

Mendis also pointed out that Sri Lanka have two practice matches against New South Wales on March 3 and against Australia on March 4. “We have a busy schedule in this World Cup and only one rest day before the first game against England. Anyway I got some news that the
 weather conditions in Sydney are very similar to that at home so the players shouldn’t worry
too much.”

Nawaz, 35, a former Sri Lanka and NCC cricketer said: “Our women’s team has performed much better than what I expected from them. As a consultant coach, in my role, I don’t think I can do lot of technical adjustments within a short period. I don’t think it’s wise to change anything close to the World Cup, but only make small adjustments. I hope to change a lot of their attitude especially preparations before and during matches. They have also got to play with more professionalism. We want to get their morale up and approach the World Cup with much confidence.”

Nawaz also said that it was a huge challenge for the women’s team to perform well on the bouncy Australian wickets. But according to the tournament rules we have got England, Pakistan and India to play in the first round. “It is very important how we play the first round matches. It means how quickly we can adjust to the Australian wickets and climate. Anyway it’s a huge challenge for us. All the team members are happy and all of them are thrilled that they have got a chance to play in a World Cup. I think our chances are good to enter the next round of the competition and finish within the top four.”

Nawaz also said that the players are physically fit and maintain a good mentality. From the technical side he said that they have not got enough international and domestic exposure compared to other teams in the competition.
Nawaz pointed out that he had only just one week to work with the girls before the World Cup and there wasn’t much he could do.

“But my duty is to assist head coach Chitral Mendis during the World Cup,” he said.
Nawaz said that winning the tri-nation in Bangladesh and also the home series against West Indies has raised the team’s morale very high and that they were going with a very positive frame of mind to Australia.