Aravinda de Silva, the former Sri Lanka batsman, has said that the Sri Lanka Under-19 team could be a threat to the other countries if they batted well in the U-19 World Cup which begins in Malaysia on February 17. However, he feels that the squad lacks "a lot of fitness for this sort of age group".
Although de Silva will not travel to Malaysia due to private commitments, he has been working with the U-19 squad since January with the aim on improving the batting which, according to the coach Roger Wijesuriya, was Sri Lanka's "main worry".
"I have been mainly working on the mental side of things like how to handle various situations and things like that," de Silva said. "That was my main aim because you cannot do drastic technical changes with less than a month and a half to go for the competition. In that aspect I must say they have grasped a fair bit and it has helped them."
"We have batting down to No.10. We need to be confident and post decent scores. If that happens I am sure we will be a threat to all the teams," de Silva said. "Our batting and spin departments are the ones which we are strong. Depending on how we handle situations, our spinners are capable of taking wickets."
De Silva said that the team's problems were more to do with the mental approach rather than the technical aspects of the game.
"Some of them are confused what is the right thing to do. They lack a lot of fitness for this sort of age group. During our time the difference was that we were active and fitter naturally. The current situation is such that they don't have that much time to do other sports. They have improved a bit on their fitness and fielding, but you can't do miracles in so short a time."
Sri Lanka will play two practice-matches against West Indies and South Africa in Kuala Lumpur before traveling to Penang where their group, which includes Australia, Nepal and Namibia, is based. Sri Lanka will begin their U-19 World Cup campaign against Nepal on February 18.