Chamari Atapattu is a genuine world class batter. The Sri Lankan captain will lead her side at the T20 Women’s World Cup which starts later this month.
While she doesn’t have the international profile of an Elysse Perry, Stefanie Taylor or Smriti Mandhana, the 29-year-old is set to be one of the stars of the tournament.
Atapattu hails from the hills of Kurunegala, home town of Sri Lankan legend Rangana Herath, who took over 500 international wickets for his country.
Atapattu appreciates that she will have to play a leadership role for her team as they come up against the world’s best.
“I have played all around the world, I have a lot of experience, I need to share that experience with my team,” Atapattu told Cricket Network. “Being captain I have to lead from the front.”
Atapattu put her name in bright lights at the 2017 World Cup with a blistering 178 not out of only 143 balls against Australia at Bristol.
She has racked up several individual awards including the ODI Batswoman of the year in 2015-16 and 2016-17, the T20 Batswoman of the year in 2016/17 and the Dialog Women’s Cricketer of the Year in 2016-17.
However it is team success that eludes Atapattu and she will be looking to rectify that in Australia this year. Sri Lanka has never got to the knock out stages of a major international tournament and while they are the under dogs at this years T20 World Cup, Atapattu will be working hard to make it happen.
“Play positive, freely and with courage, that is the message I give my team,” said Atapattu when confronted with playing the world’s best teams.
Atapattu is no stranger to playing in Australia.
She picked up a contract with the Melbourne Renegades in the Women's Big Bash League in 2017/18 and again this year in a short two game stint.
On Sri Lanka’s tour to Australia late last year she blasted 113 of 66 balls in a T20 game at North Sydney Oval followed by another century in a one day game at Allan Border Field in Brisbane.
Atapattu is not a one woman show though, Sri Lanka have plenty of other talent on show. All-rounder Shashikala Siriwardane has scored over 2,000 international runs for Sri Lanka and taken over 100 wickets.
Harshitha Madavi recently scored a blistering century and will be a handful for opposition bowlers.
Young all rounder Sathya Sandeepani also made the World Cup squad and will play a key role.
While Australia’s cricketers know what Atapattu is capable of, this years T20 World Cup may just be the chance for the skipper and her Sri Lankan team to announce themselves to the world.
Sri Lanka play New Zealand in their opening match on 22 February at the WACA.
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