The series, if it goes through, will mark the tourists’ first bit of international cricket in over a year
Sri Lanka are in talks to tour Pakistan for a series of three ODIs which will be vital preparation for both teams ahead of the Women’s ODI World Cup global qualifier that starts on November 21 in Zimbabwe. If the tour goes ahead the matches will be Sri Lanka’s first in 18 months, since the T20 World Cup in February-March last year.
Talks for the bilateral series have happened as an eleventh-hour arrangement after the ECB pulled their men and women’s teams from a tour of Pakistan in mid-October citing concerns over the players’ “mental and physical well-being” as well as security.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Harshitha Madavi will likely lead Sri Lanka given Chamari Athapaththu, the regular captain, had taken the SLC’s permission months before this series was ever in the works to go and play the WBBL. She is currently in Adelaide, undergoing quarantine with the Perth Scorchers.
If these three ODIs are confirmed – and the PCB said it is still a “work in progress” – Sri Lanka will fly out to Pakistan on October 15, following a seven-day self-isolation period. A practice game is also on the schedule.
Considering they may be coming out of an 18-month break from international cricket, newly-appointed women’s head coach Hashan Tillakaratne has been focused on doing what he can to get rid of the players’ ring rust.
“From October onwards we’re trying to play at least nine games with the Under-17 side boys,” he told ESPNcricinfo. “We also finished a three-week practice program in Dambulla, which went off very well. So what we’re trying to do is go through the process and give them more challenges in due course.”
SLC say the lack of playing time for the women’s team has not been for want of effort. Ashley de Silva, the board CEO, said they had been trying to get a home series against Pakistan since the start of the year but could never figure out the timing.
“There was a time that we wanted to get them [Pakistan] down to Sri Lanka, but due to the fact that we were playing so many tournaments, we couldn’t create so many bubbles at the same time,” he said. “We were also having problem with the resources; we couldn’t find the necessary amount of doctors to handle so many bubbles.
“We were going to host them here, but then we had two tours (for the men’s side) with the South African team and then the Indian team. On top of that there were bubbles and training for some other teams as well, such as the A team. So we couldn’t find the resources to handle so many bubbles.
“But we were on the lookout for a window. Now that the window has opened up, and they invited us, we jumped at the idea.”
The SLC had announced a four-team 50-over women’s invitational tournament set for October, but that is unlikely to happen now, with the turnaround between the team’s return from Pakistan and their flying out again to Zimbabwe on November 15, a little over two weeks.
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha