Tillekeratne aims to groom future Sri Lanka players | Sunday Observer

Tillekeratne aims to groom future Sri Lanka players

Hashan Tillekeratne
Hashan Tillekeratne

Hashan Tillekeratne the head coach of the Sri Lanka under-19 cricket team has expressed his ambition to uplift the standard of the team after assessing their shortcomings during the five One Day Series against the Pakistan under-19 team.

The one day series against the visiting team will begin today (26) at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota.

Tillekeratne said that his team is ready to take on the highly ranked Pakistan team who will certainly offer a stiff challenge to their Sri Lankan counterparts.

“This is a good opportunity to measure the standard of our players before the Asia Cup. I must thank Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for arranging this one day series. We will also be able to study the areas that need to be developed for the future. We beat Australia in the Test match after 34 years this year. This is a big improvement but they need more exposure,” said Tillekeratne.

The current Sri Lanka team retains only five players that played in the last Asia Cup. Even Pakistan has five players with them. Sri Lanka says it will not underestimate the Pakistan team.

“We had earlier planned to play two four day matches but due to the situation in the country we stuck to five one day matches and will use only one venue,” noted Tillekeratne.

The squad is captained by Nipun Dhananjaya while Kamil Mishara is the deputy. Dhananjaya will be rested in the last two games and the leadership will be given to Mishara to groom him for leadership.

The Sri Lanka U-19 team is well balanced with a strong batting and bowling line up. Chaminda Vaas was the bowling coach and after his promotion, former Sri Lanka paceman Ravindra Pushpakumara has taken over. Upul Chandana has been the fielding coach for a long time now.

The youth players will be involved in the provincial tournament followed by a tour to the West Indies before the World Cup. These fixtures are a good opportunity for improvement and preparations.

A few of the under-19 cricketers were selected to play in the Premier League Tier A and B divisions last season and it was good to see them perform well and obtain experience.

“I think we will miss the two four-day matches which is a disappointment, but at least five one dayers will be satisfying to get good exposure and practice. In my view, young players have to play Test matches to show their skills and potential and then change to the one-day format,” observed Tillekeratne.

He believes that young players have to maintain good physical fitness from the beginning and Dharshana Weerasinghe the physiotherapist has taken up the task.

“We are looking at the next under-19 World Cup to be held in South Africa next February. I am sure with this talent three or four players will be seen at the 2023 World Cup to be held in India,” added Tillekeratne.