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U-19 WC: Jayawardene as consultant coach a huge advantage, says SL skipper Wellalage

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Guyana (West Indies), Jan 12 (IANS) Former ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup finalists Sri Lanka are hoping to make use of the experience of one of the country’s most successful captains of all-time, Mahela Jayawardene, in a bid to win the tournament, scheduled to commence in the West Indies on January 14.

Jayawardene is working with the Under-19 team as a consultant coach during the tournament, providing invaluable experience to the younger group, and skipper Dunith Wellalage said having the great with the side was a huge advantage.

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“Mahela has helped our team and he has a great knowledge. We can do a great job with him,” said Wellalage.

Sri Lanka have been given a tough draw on paper. They will face three-time champions Australia and hosts West Indies, as well as Scotland in Group D. But facing the Scots first could provide an opportunity for manager Farveez Maharoof’s team to build momentum in their attempt to qualify for the Super League play-offs.

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Wellalage said his side is in a good frame of mind heading into their opener. “We have a good side and my players are really excited for the World Cup. We’re in a good mind-set and this World Cup is a good opportunity for us. In the last few months, we played a first series against Bangladesh and then a second against England,” Wellalage told ICC.

“After that we went to the Asia Cup and were the runners-up. Now we’re at the World Cup and have prepared really well. Our strength is our batting. We have a good batting line-up and a good balanced side. The first match we play is Scotland and then Australia and West Indies. I think the West Indies and Australia are good sides so I think we can give a good fight against those teams,” added Wellalage.

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Meanwhile, Scotland captain Charlie Peet says his team is looking to take inspiration from their senior counterparts ahead of the opening game against Sri Lanka in Guyana.

Peet’s team is a late replacement for New Zealand, who withdrew over quarantine issues, but the skipper believes Scotland can once again impress on the international stage after their senior side did well in the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE recently.

He said, “The senior team are obviously a huge inspiration for what they did at the T20 World Cup (making the Super 12s). Quite a few of our guys play with and rub shoulders with the first team quite a lot, so to see them put in those sorts of performances against the best teams in the world gives us the inspiration to think that we can do the same.”

The left-arm spinner also revealed that, while his team is raring to go now that the preparation is complete, the news on their participation took a while to sink in.

He added, “It was obviously a pretty big surprise for us to find out we’d qualified when we were all extremely disappointed with the way the qualifiers turned out. It was quite surreal when we were told, it didn’t really sink in for a while.

“But after that we got straight back into training and we had a good couple of tough months at the indoor centre.”

–IANS

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