Imesha Dulani, Sachini Nisansala complete the trio of teenagers in the 17-member squad
Sri Lanka have finalised their 17-member squad for next month’s Women’s ODI World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, with 16-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne – a surprise inclusion when the squad was first announced earlier this month – retaining her place.
Earlier this year Gunaratne, an opening batter and fast bowler, became the youngest centurion in the history of Sri Lanka women’s first-class cricket at just 15 years old. Her rise to the national ranks comes in a year in which Sri Lanka’s women’s team has yet to play an international match – they haven’t competed internationally since the Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia in February-March 2020. They were due to tour Pakistan this month, but that fell through.
Gunaratne is one of three teenagers to make the squad, with 19-year-old batter Imesha Dulani and 19-year-old left-arm wristspinner Sachini Nisansala the other two. The uncapped trio had impressed during a residential training camp, inclusive of intra-squad matches, in September, with Dulani even name-checked recently by captain Chamari Athapaththu as a potential option at either three or four in the batting order.
Their addition provides a youthful injection to a squad that is otherwise teeming with experience. While in vice-captain Harshitha Madavi, 23, and the highly rated Kavisha Dilhari, 20, Sri Lanka have younger players expected to form the spine of the side in the months and years ahead, 10 of the 17 players named in the squad are either 30 years old or older. With several boasting World Cup experience, Sri Lanka will know every bit of it will likely be needed considering the lack of playing time the team has had in the past year and a half.
None more so than that provided by 31-year-old Athapaththu – currently taking part in the WBBL with Perth Scorchers – on whom much of Sri Lanka’s hopes will firmly and understandably be pinned.
The qualifier will be held from November 21 to December 5, and will have 10 teams taking part with three making it to the Women’s World Cup in New Zealand from March 4 to April 3, 2022.