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New SL women's coach confident despite spate of injuries

Sri Lanka women head coach Hemantha Devapriya is confident his side can pull off a few upsets against England in the upcoming home series

Sa'adi Thawfeeq
Chamari Atapattu plays a cross-batted shot, Ireland v Sri Lanka, Women's World T20, Group A, Mohali, March 20, 2016

File photo - One of Hemantha Devapriya's aims as Sri Lanka women's head coach is to get Chamari Atapattu back among the runs  •  International Cricket Council

Sri Lanka women's new head coach Hemantha Devapriya has not given up hopes of his team causing a few upsets in the four-match ODI series against England, despite injuries to four key players.
Former captain and experienced all-rounder Shashikala Siriwardene is out with a knee injury, which was followed by a bout of flu. There are also injuries to left-arm medium-pacer Udeshika Prabodhani (shoulder), batsman Yasodara Mendis (finger) and hard hitting all-rounder, Eshani Lokusuriyage (ankle). But Devapriya, a former first-class wicketkeeper, was optimistic.
"It's a big task to beat a strong England side with all these injuries, but nevertheless it is a good series to identify who the good players are," he said. "It is a good chance for the youngsters who have replaced the injured players to showcase their talent and a good opportunity to find what our current bench strength is."
Devapriya has been in the job for only two weeks, and said he didn't have sufficient time to get to know the players well but has been able to instill a lot of confidence into them.
"I told them that they need to be mentally tough and to believe in their ability," Devapriya said. "I've found that they have underestimated themselves and they didn't believe in their individual talent.
"I told them that they are the best that's why they have been selected. They have now started to believe in themselves and you can see that there is change of attitude in the dressing room. They have the potential and if they play to it, they will be able to surprise England.
"There are a lot of areas that needs to be changed but those are long term goals which I hope to do after the series."
This is Devapriya's second assignment as a coach at Sri Lanka's top level. He had earlier handled the Sri Lanka men's A team from 1998 to 2004 and before his present appointment had been coaching Premier club sides such as NCC, Bloomfield, CCC and Sri Lanka Army SC.
His appointment followed a whitewash at the hands of Australia in September, a result that also instigated the appointment of Inoka Ranaweera as captain of the team instead of Chamari Atapattu.
"The change was made to the captaincy to give Chamari more freedom to play her own game. We found that the captaincy weighed on her and she was not delivering with bat and ball to her full potential," Devapriya said.
Chief selector Vinothen John said the batting order would be shuffled, with Nipuni Hansika and Hasini Perera opening in place of the regulars Atapattu and Prasadani Weerakkody.
"We have seen on many occasions Chamari and Prasadani laying a solid opening foundation but the middle order has not been consistent," said John.
"We thought of strengthening the middle order with Chamari and Prasadani batting at number 3 and 4 respectively while introducing a new pair of openers. We have tested this new combination during practices and it seems very positive. We cannot afford to lose more matches."
The series commences on Wednesday with the first ODI at the SSC. The last three matches of the series will be played for ICC Women's Championship points. Sri Lanka lie at the bottom of the table in the Championship, and are out of contention for automatic qualification to next year's World Cup.