3, August 2012 (Cricturf): The Sri Lanka U-19 team will leave the country today to take part in the U-19 World Cup held in Australia. Sanitha De Mel, the young skipper from St.Sebastian’s College will lead the team while Anjelo Jayasinghe of Maris Stella College Negombo acts as the Vice Captain. The squad is the same squad that participated in the Asia Cup recently.
Before the team leave, we got the opportunity to talk with Sanitha about his start of playing cricket and the pre-preparation and plans the team has gone through for the upcoming World Cup.
Sanitha is a right hand batsman and a right arm fast bowler.
From the interaction with Sanitha -
Start of the cricket life till now in a gist: “I started off cricket at the age of 10 while I was in grade 10. The person who taught me to play cricket was my father. My first official coach was Kanishka Silva Sir until under- 15 and then Ranasinghe Sir. At the under 17 level at the senior level Neil Rajapaksha Sir was my coach and then Sanjeewa Sir took over the coaching when I came to play the first X1 . On the first year I played for the first X1 I got selected to the U-19 team. From there onwards I played in the first X1 for 4 years. The person who helped me a lot to come to this level IS Pasan Wanasinghe Sir. The main role of me in the team would be the contribution from the ball.”
How was the training and how prepaird as a team: “As a team I think we are really well prepared. We trained and practised very hard aiming the World Cup. We did everything for the past couple of month as a team. The help we got from coaches were immense. Our head coach Navid Nawaz, fast bowling coach Prabath Nissanka, spin coach Piyal Wijetunga, fielding coach Upul Chandana at every practise session addressed issues and improvements for each of us individually which helped us a lot. We had a very tough training session in Dambulla for an entire week which again was a successful one in my opinion.
Opinion on the team: “No complaints because the entire team is talented and good. We have four experience players in the side Niroshan Dickwella, Anjelo Jayasinghe,Sandun Weerakkody and Amila Aponso who has played U-19 for a while now. If you take the bowling department, we have 5 fast bowlers with 2 all-rounders and 3 spinners. The team also has 7 batsmen which help to keep the balance well. Anjelo Jayasinghe is the most senior and the experienced batsman in the side and I have big expectations from him in the tour”
Special training for Australian wickets: “Australia is known to have fast wickets. To get used to it, we practice as much as possible in fast tracks during sessions. In Colombo we usually practiced in NCC and Keththarama and during the practice sessions in Dambulla we used fast tracks as well. Apart from that, the team was given a good idea about how a fast track behaves and I think everyone knows how and what things to be done when playing in a fast track.”
Weather: “One challenge that we would face is the weather change once we go to Australia. But the plan is to get adopted during the 7 day gap we have from 4th to the 11th till the first match starts. Myself and few seniors who have played in England and other countries have an idea of the weather and how to react when playing through them.”
The group we are in and going forward in the tournament: “There are 16 teams taking part in the World Cup this time. We are in the group D with Bangladesh, Namibia and South Africa in the group stage. The team is focusing on winning one match at a time to go forward step by step. We have to come to the first 2 in the group to go to the super 8. The two tough teams in our group will be Bangladesh and South Africa. The main focus and the team plan are to play our best in those two matches.”
On the pressure of expectations from the country: “We know all the Sri Lankans want us to bring the World Cup home. As a team we are here to give our best to make their hopes true because it is our main hope too. We want all the Sri Lankans to watch us play and be with us till the end of the tournament because there blessings will be a big thing for us.”
Commenting on the captaincy: “I am really happy and honored to be the Captain of the Sri Lankan team for the U-19 World Cup. It is a rare opportunity. I don’t think captaincy is a burden of it will affect me. But I know it is a big responsibility and I need to balance it with my bowling and batting too. I think I am ready to go through this challenge because I have a bit of experience in Captaincy from school level and Asia Cup.”
The team is scheduled to leave Colombo late in the night today and the tournament will begins on August 11.We wish Sanitha and the team all the very best and blessings to bring the World Cup home.