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When SL last played an ODI, I was 29 and now I am 32: Athapaththu


CHENNAI: When Sri Lanka women take the field against Pakistan in the first ODI on June 1, 2022, it would have been 966 days since they played their previous One Day International. While it’s true that the pandemic affected the sporting world and made things difficult for all teams, Sri Lankan women were hit the worst of all. Since the 2020 T20 World Cup in Australia, their male counterparts played 14 Tests, 18 ODIs and 28 T20Is, the women got to play in one one-dayer in the ICC ODI World Cup Qualifiers and four T20Is in the Commonwealth Qualifiers. 

With the Qualifiers getting called-of midway due to Covid outbreak, they missed the 2022 ODI World Cup in New Zealand as teams qualified based on ICC rankings. Currently playing in the FairBreak International tournament in Dubai, Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu opens up about the tough couple of years, Commonwealth Games, and more. 


Chamari Athapaththu

The last couple of years haven’t been really great for Sri Lankan women…
You know, 3rd (9th) of October 2019 was the last ODI game I played against Australia, I scored 103 runs. After that, I played in World Cup Qualifiers against the Netherlands (which is not an official ODI as Netherlands don’t have ODI status) and scored 111 runs. So, for two years, I have not played any ODI international cricket. When the pandemic started I was 29, the next game I played, I was 31 years old. That is not good for a cricketer, but what to do, I can control only my cricket. I can’t control the logistics part of Sri Lanka or international cricket or the pandemic. So, I just control what I can do. I think in the last two years, we lost a few things. Especially the 50-over world cup as we couldn’t play in the World Cup qualifiers because of the pandemic. 

How hard was missing the World Cup for the first time in 29 years?
In 2017, I was among the top runscorers (12th) in the World Cup, but this year, my team was not even in the World Cup. It’s too hard, but we can’t control it. Whatever happened has happened. I just focus on my game, and be positive. That is how I think. And I train hard because I know this year, we have the Commonwealth Games and next year we have the T20 World Cup. We have to show our talent and how good we are. That’s why I am in this tournament, to show we are a good team and I am a really good player. We have to show how good we are to the world.

Sri Lanka will return to ODIs for the first time since 2019 vs Pakistan later this month. Your expectations?
If we want to improve, we have to play more games. I think after two and a half years, we have played one one-dayer. It’s hard, but I trust my girls. We are not expecting too much in ODIs, we know we haven’t played any games. In the T20s, we want to do more. 

Full story: newindianexpress.com