ICC: Athapaththu – We must keep our momentum

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Photo Credit: ICC

Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu is asking for more of the same when her side takes on Bangladesh after seeing off hosts South Africa in the tournament opener.

Sri Lanka are bidding to make history in the second match of the ICC Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup 2023, having never previously won their first two T20 World Cup fixtures.

Athapaththu top-scored in their nervy three-run victory over the Proteas, and although morale is high following that win, the skipper says she was quick to remind her team of the task at hand.

“I told the team: ‘That game is finished, we must focus on the next game,’” said Athapaththu.

“Bangladesh have really good players so we never underestimate them. We will focus on our skills, back ourselves and stick with our plans.

“I was really happy about mine and my team’s performance against South Africa.

“It’s a really happy bunch of players at the moment and I think we’ll have a good positive mindset tomorrow.”

Put into bat by South Africa, Sri Lanka set a respectable 129 for four, with Athapaththu (68) and Vishmi Gunaratne (35) the only players to make double figures.

And the skipper says that her batting unit will have learnt a lot from that experience, having initially found the scoring tough in unfamiliar conditions. 

“We want to improve our batting a little bit,” she said.  

“We have to use the pace of the fast bowlers because we can’t play full shots in these conditions, it’s too hard to bat in the first six overs, we can’t play so many straight drives.

“I could not connect properly to start with against South Africa but I managed after that.”

Athapaththu’s side will see a familiar face in the opposition dugout on Sunday, with former boss Hashan Tillakaratne having taken the reins as head coach of Bangladesh in November.

This will be his first fixture against his former employers, and Tigresses captain Nigar Sultana hopes they can use Tillakaratne’s inside knowledge to their advantage.   

“We have got their coach, so that is a big advantage,” she said.

“He knew a lot about them and so we have planned well and he works on that all the time.

“This is the advantage we have and so we are trying to execute our game plan.”

Nigar and her side are looking to follow the success of their Under-19s side, who were denied only via net run-rate a spot in the semi-finals of the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup 2023.

Four players have been promoted from that squad to senior group and Nigar says she is looking forward to seeing them shine on the biggest stage.  

“We were watching them when we were in camp in Bangladesh and we were very excited,” she said.

“They didn’t have much time to prepare before the World Cup but they played really well.

“This is a huge opportunity for the team to show how good they are.

“We want to show that we are to compete, not just to participate.”


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