Sri Lanka invest in youth ahead of women's T20Is against West Indies

Sachini Nisansala took a five-for SLC

Sri Lanka have given their women's T20I side a youthful overhaul ahead of the three-match series against West Indies, making six changes to the side that competed in last month's T20 World Cup qualifiers. Among them are the under-25 trio of Imesha Dulani, Sachini Nisansala and Kaushini Nuthyangana - they have eight T20Is between them - and the uncapped 17 year-old Rashmika Sewwandi. There are also recalls for the veteran pair of Oshadi Ranasinghe and Ama Kanchana, who last turned out for a T20I in September and February 2023 respectively.

Making way are Udeshika Prabodhani, Inoka Ranaweera, Hansima Karunaratne, Anushka Sanjeewani and Achini Kulasuriya. Of these, the omissions of Sanjeewani and Kulasuriya are likely to raise eyebrows after both had made their mark in the recently concluded ODI series against the West Indies.

Kulasuriya had taken three wickets across the first and second ODIs before being rotated out in the third. Her economical spells had also played a crucial role in Sri Lanka's unbeaten run in the qualifiers. Sanjeewani meanwhile had seemingly smashed her way out of a lean patch with a match-defining 46-ball 55 two days ago.

On the whole, the exclusions and their replacements have seen the average age of the squad drop from 29.4 to 26.25. Sewwandi, a batting allrounder, joins 15 year-old Shashini Gimhani - who made her debut in the qualifiers - in the 16-member squad, while there are now just six players above the age of 30.

Despite these changes though, the batting unit remains as solid as ever, led by Chamari Athapaththu. Vishmi Gunaratne, still just 18, has already nailed down a spot at the top of the order, while the likes of Harshitha Samarawickrama, Hasini Perera, Nilakshi de Silva and Kavisha Dilhari were all in the runs during the West Indies ODIs. There could also be game time for Dulani and allrounder Sewwandi, along with Nuthyangana, who is the only recognised wicketkeeper in the squad.

The spin department as ever is stacked, and will be headed by the experienced trio of Ranasinghe, Inoshi Fernando and Sugandika Kumari. They will be supplemented by wristspinner Gimhani and left-arm spinner Nisansala - fresh off a five-wicket haul in her last ODI - while also being able to call on the services of Dilhari and Athapaththu. Meanwhile Kanchana, Kawya Kavindi and Sewwandi are the seam bowling options.

The first T20I will take place in Hambantota on June 24 followed by the second and third matches on June 26 and 28.

Sri Lanka women's T20I squad

Chamari Athapaththu (capt), Vishmi Gunaratne, Harshitha Samarawickrama, Hasini Perera, Nilakshi De Silva, Kavisha Dilhari, Oshadi Ranasinghe, Inoshi Fernando, Sugandika Kumari, Ama Kanchana, Rashmika Sewwandi, Imesha Dulani, Shashini Gimhani, Kawya Kavindi, Sachini Nisansala, Kaushini Nuthyangana