SL Coach 'Confident' Of Qualifying For Women's World Cup 2017

February 07, 2017

Finishing as one of the top four sides in the Super Six stage of the Women's World Cup Qualifier - which allows teams entry into the 2017 Women's World Cup in England - will be the Sri Lanka women's utmost priority, according to coach Hemantha Devapriya.

Sri Lanka are one of 10 nations playing the qualifying tournament which began in Colombo today. Sri Lanka are grouped with India, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Thailand in Group A. Group B has South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Scotland and Papua New Guinea. The top three teams from each group will advance to the Super Six stage. Sri Lanka play India in their opening game.

"India is the toughest team in our group and we have to win at least three matches to qualify for the next round," Devapriya said. "It's an advantage playing under home conditions but there is also a bit of disadvantage because of the pressure, as expectations are high for us to do well.

"However the players are ready to perform and take up the challenge. In the last three months since I took over I see about 20% development in all areas, which is a surprise for me.

"Their attitudes have changed and we worked hard. It was a hectic three months and the players also coped up very well to the demands. We had good preparations. We played a lot of practice games with the Under-17 boys and they are ready for it. Now it's all about putting it into practice at the matches and showcasing their talent. They are confident and I can see it in them."

Sri Lanka played a warm-up game against Pakistan on Sunday which they lost by three wickets. But what was pleasing to the coach was that Sri Lanka were able to cross 200 in their innings. "It's a plus point scoring over 200. We couldn't win because Pakistan batted well and at the same time we didn't bowl well. We didn't have the pace to bowl on that wicket," Devapriya said. "The result didn't matter much because both sides were trying out various things ahead of the tournament. The players know what to do, they have identified their roles and I am confident they will do their best."

Devapriya, a wicketkeeper of the pre-Test era, said that his team will be banking on senior players like Eshani Lokusuriyage, Chamari Atapattu, Prasadani Weerakkody, Dilani Manodara and Chamari Polgampola to lead their batting while Udeshika Prabodhani and captain Inoka Ranaweera will need to excel with the ball.

Devapriya was also pleased to see that the programmes being carried out by Sri Lanka Cricket to raise the standard of women's cricket in the country were proving to be a success.

"There about 2000 students keen to play cricket. SLC is organising an Under-21 district tournament for them. At the same time there is a group going around picking talent. That's a good indication that we will have good players coming through," Devapriya said. "A lot of schools start playing cricket around the age of 16. I have seen young players who are not yet ready to make it big, but they have the talent. It's our responsibility once this tournament is over, to identify these players and get them into the main stream and groom them."


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