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Manager of the Sri Lankan national women’s team ARM Aroos believes his team can be competitive and spark a turnaround in their fortunes against the West Indies in the third T20 International at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain today at 2 pm. West Indies lead the five-match series 2-0 and needs just one victory to secure an unassailable lead and complete a clean sweep against the Sri Lankans who went down in the preceding One-Day Internationals 2-1.
The other T20 Internationals are on Monday, from 6.30 pm and on Wednesday from 2 pm. Both are to be played at the Queen’s Park Oval. Aroos said on Saturday that his team combines experience and youth as the Sri Lankans have set their eyes firmly on building a formidable unit in preparation for the Women’s Word Cup.
He said he is not disappointed with the performance of his team so far on tour but that there was much room for improvement and he is hoping that they can rebound against the superior Windies. “We have seven experienced players and several youngsters currently in the quad who we want to groom for the World Cup. We started women’s cricket about 16 years ago and over the past three World Cups we have seen about six players really dominating,” said Aroos.
The former chairman of the national selectors and head of the umpires’ committee said the Sri Lankan investment in the young women on the West Indies tour is costing in the region of six to seven million dollars and is crucial to their developmental plans for the future.
Reflecting on the T20 series so far, Aroos said that this team could have levelled the contest in the last match in Barbados which West Indies won by seven runs but the Sri Lankans gave away too many runs in the last four overs. And he puts down as a learning experience the defeat by 23 runs in the first T20 International the day before in Kensington Oval. But he is optimistic that on the slow Oval track they can launch a rearguard action to salvage some pride in the remaining three matches.
Aroos said several players in his squad has had experience playing at the Queen’s Park Oval on tours in 2008 and 2010 with this being their time in the Caribbean. The former captain of Moors Sports Club, a leading Colombo cricket side, who said he is also a curator, has been taken aback by the appearance of the Oval strip which he said is devoid of any grass and also observed that the practice nets are clay-like and flat.
Nevertheless he is confident that his bowlers and batsmen can adapt their game to mount a challenge against the West Indies who are keen to wrap up the series and continue their impressive showing in international competition. Aroos said he is impressed with the great improvement of the West Indies players over the past two years and pointed out they have been strengthened by their fast bowling and batting talent in sharp contrast to when the Sri Lankans were here in 2010.
He said the women’s cricket programme in Sri Lanka has been attracting more participants with more than 11 teams taking part in the provincial tournaments while school tournaments are being put in place to form a greater resource pool. Aroos said the future is bright for Sri Lankan women’s cricket and that within the next three or four years they will be able to build a side which would be capable of challenging the top teams at the World Cup.