The arrival of the Pakistan Under-19 ODI team for five ODI matches against the Sri Lanka Under-19 Team was greeted with
wholehearted warmth by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) with its Chief Operations Officer, Jerome Jayaratne thanking and praising the Pakistan cricket authorities for their spontaneous decision in sending the team to play in Sri Lanka at a time the country had been wracked by the recent terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists.
Chairing the press conference at the Hotel Galadari on Friday, the SLC COO, while welcoming the captains and managers and officials and the media, said, “As you know what happened recently in the country, still Pakistan accepted our invitation and took a bold decision to send their team to play in Sri Lanka which is highly appreciated by us Sri Lankans.”
Turning to the Pakistan Skipper Rohail Nazir, he said, “Going back to 1996 you were not born then during the height of the civil war when some countries were unwilling to come to Sri Lanka during the World Cup,Pakistan was one country that decided to tour Sri Lanka. The relationship between our two countries is such going back to a very longtime. Sri Lanka too reciprocated in a goodwill gesture when Pakistan had problems in 2017 when we sent a team to play in Pakistan. All measures have been taken to make you all safe, and I wish both teams to play good cricket.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Captain Nipun Dananjaya said, “During the last two months we have practiced hard and played several practice matches and I’m confident that the players are in good fettle to prevail over Pakistan. We have some seasoned players who have derived considerable experience from having played against Australia and India in the recent past. We know how strong a side Pakistan is, but I believe we have done the necessary groundwork to beat them.”
The Pakistan Captain Rohail Nazir, while thanking the Sri Lanka Cricket authorities for the warm welcome accorded, said, “I am confident about my team and performing well. We have had extensive practice sessions and camps and geared for this series. We have a strong team and are hopeful of playing good cricket in Sri Lanka.”
The Pakistan Coach cum Manager, Azam Khan was quick to air Pakistan’s firm solidarity with Sri Lanka during this turbulent period when he categorically stated that Pakistan was totally against terrorism. “Pakistan absolutely deplores terrorism and our solidarity is with Sri Lanka,” he said.
On the team strength, Khan said,”We have a very balanced squad of four to five pace bowlers, 3 spinners and mostly competent all-rounders.”
Sri Lanka Coach, Hashan Tillekeratne said, “We have a strong 21-member squad, and we expect to give every player exposure ahead of the Asia Cup. We have as much as seven seasoned players from the Tier A and B of domestic first class cricket.
National selector, Brendon Kuruppu said, “Many rural players have been selected from such schools as Joseph Vaz, Mahinda College, Tissa Vidyalaya, St. Anthony’s Katugastota and St. Anthony’s Wattala as well as from Nalanda College and Royal College.”
SRI LANKA SQUAD FOR FIRST THREE ODI’S:
Nipun Dananjaya (Capt), Kamil Mishara (V. capt.), Navod Paranavitana, Mohamed Shamaz, Sonal Dinusha, Avishka Tharindu,
Chamidu Wijesinghe, Dilum S. Tillakaratne, Rohan Sanjaya, Ashen Daniel, Dilshan Madushanka, Pawan Ratnayake, Ravndu
Rashantha, Naveem Fernando, Raveen De Silva, Sandun Mendis.
SQUAD FOR 4TH AND 5TH ODI’S
Kamil Mishara (Capt.), Nipun Dananjaya, T. Anhishek Kahaduwaarachchi, Kavindu Wickramasinghe, Avishka Tharindu, Dunith
Wellalage, Kavindu Nadeeshan, Chamindu Wijesinghe, Rohan Sanjaya, Pawan Ratnayake, Ravindu Rashantha, Naveen Fernando, Raveen De Silva, Sandun Mendis, Dilshan Madushanka.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-