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“I Hope We Can Play The Best Cricket In World Cup Qualifiers”- Chamari Athapaththu

In a press conference ahead of the 2nd ODI, Sri Lankan captain Chamari Athapaththu and South African bowler Masabata Klaas provided insights into their team’s performances and strategies.

While responding to the questions of Neha Shetty from Women’s CricInsight, both players shared their perspectives on their recent games and the upcoming challenges, shedding light on their individual roles and team dynamics.

Chamari Athapaththu, addressing questions about her team’s bowling performance in the first ODI where Sri Lanka conceded 270 runs in a rain-affected encounter, emphasised the challenging conditions for bowlers. “Actually, the condition is really good for the batters,” she noted.

Despite executing their plans, Chamari Athapaththu stressed the need for improvement within the bowling unit. “We need to improve our line and length a little bit and [consider] a few more options,” she added, outlining areas for development.

When questioned about key areas of focus for the bowling unit, Athapaththu pointed out, “I think there’s the tendency for them to take some more singles and I think they’re striking really good. They have good plans for our spinners. So I feel we need to improve our line and length a little bit and explore a few more options as well.”

Chamari Athapaththu- the batter will look to come to the party in the 2nd ODI [Image: Getty]
Chamari Athapaththu- the batter will look to come to the party in the 2nd ODI [Image: Getty]
Despite her team’s bowling challenges, Athapaththu remained upbeat about her own batting form. “Actually, I’m enjoying my batting,” she stated. “I know the first two games I got out early in the first ten balls, but the third game I scored some runs. So the last ODI game was rain-affected. I’m in good contact and I’m in good form. I hope I can play my best cricket tomorrow and the next game as well. I don’t want to put too much pressure on my shoulders. I just enjoy my game in the middle and I want to play my positive cricket all the time.”

Chamari Athapaththu also expressed her excitement about participating in The Hundred tournament this year. “Yeah, I’m super excited,” she exclaimed. “The very first time they picked me in the draft, so it’s really good. I’m happy to join as an overseas player.” 

Talking about playing for the Oval Invincibles, she said, “I know that team is a really good team. They won the championship twice. So I think Marizanne [Kapp] is also playing for that same team. So few times we share the same dressing room, so I’m super excited to be part of this season of The Hundred.”

Switching gears to the performance of Sri Lanka’s U19 team in the recently concluded U19 Tri Series versus England and Australia where the team put up impressive performances, Athapaththu shared her pride.

“As a captain, I’m so proud of them,” she said. “Especially they’re playing really good cricket. We restructured our domestic circuit last two years, so now results are coming our way.”

Elaborating more the same, the skipper added, “So a lot of youngsters are playing cricket in Sri Lanka. So I saw some youngsters playing their best cricket in the U19 Tri-Nation series, especially spinners, 14-year-old girls and 15-year-old girls, they both are really good”, reflecting on the talent pool in Sri Lanka.

Sashini Gamhini, 15 has been selected for the Sri Lankan team for the T20 World Cup Qualifiers [Image: Getty]
Sashini Gamhini, 15 has been selected for the Sri Lankan team for the T20 World Cup Qualifiers [Image: Getty]
Speaking on the selection of the 15-year-old, Sashini Gimhani, Chamari said, “I think one girl picked for World Cup qualifiers impresses me. So before the Tri-Nation series, we picked her because I saw her talent. I especially talked about her with the selectors and she got the opportunity to play in World Cup Qualifiers. I think she can bowl with both hands, she can bat with both hands and she can throw the ball with both hands. So I think it’s a big asset for Sri Lanka, a big gem for Sri Lanka. I hope she will play the best cricket in her career.”

Looking ahead to the World Cup qualifiers, Athapaththu acknowledged the challenges but remained focused.

“I know we have played really good cricket in the past couple of months, especially we beat New Zealand, England, even South Africa. But at the end of the day, different formats and different conditions because qualifiers are some kind of risk. You know, one or two players can change the game. So every team is coming, they want to play in the World Cup.”

She also observed, “So I don’t think it’s an easy thing for us. So we focus on one game at a time. Ireland, UAE and Zimbabwe, also there and even Thailand and they have good teams. I know it’s a big task for us. But we will try our best, and I hope we can play our best cricket in the World Cup qualifiers as well.”

Masabata Klaas: Keeping It Simple Yet Effective

In contrast to Sri Lanka’s bowling challenges, South African pace bowler Masabata Klaas reflected on her positive performance and mindset heading into the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Masabata Klaas has been effective for the Proteas [Image: Getty]
Masabata Klaas has been effective for the Proteas [Image: Getty]
“My bowling, I’m actually in a good space whereby I think I’m taking a lot of responsibilities with the bowling attack,” Klaas remarked confidently. “So I think my bowling so far has been great.  And I’m also learning and growing as a cricketer and as a bowler. So what I’m saying is I’m leading in the right direction.”

When asked about her strategies for the T20 World Cup, Klaas emphasized simplicity. “We’re keeping things simple,” she asserted. “Knowing what I want to do at the end of the day and sticking to that. Obviously, your plan won’t always work. But you must also have a plan B, wherever you can actually use it when the going gets tough.”

As they gear up for the 2nd ODI, both teams are poised to showcase their resilience and determination on the field. Athapaththu and Klaas, emblematic figures of elite cricketing talent, embody the spirit of relentless pursuit of excellence. Fans can anticipate a thrilling encounter in the upcoming ODI.

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