UNDER-19 CRICKET WORLD CUP PREVIEW - SRI LANKA: Nipun Dananjaya has captained more Youth ODIs than anyone else has played since the last World Cup, and his side will hope practice eventually makes perfect
Captain: Nipun Dananjaya
Last time: Ninth
Previous best: Second in 2000
Nipun Dananjaya: This tournament could see Sri Lanka's captain become his country's most capped player in Youth ODI by overtaking a top three of Kamindu Mendis, Avishka Fernando and Sachith Pathirana, who have all since gone onto make the senior international side.
Left-handed batsman Dananjaya has already made his senior T20 debut – 28 from 16 opening the batting for Sinhalese Sports Club last February – and his experience will be key to the side, having captained in more Youth ODIs since the last World Cup (32) than anybody else has even played.
Navod Paranavithana: Closed out 2019 on a high, reaching three figures against England in the final of a tri-series tournament in the Caribbean in December before securing Sri Lanka's 77-run victory with the key wickets of Lewis Goldsworthy and top-scorer Jordan Cox in back-to-back overs.
While the century itself had doubled his run tally from the previous six innings, the left-handed opener scored four other scores above fifty in the format in 2019, and was Galle's leading batsman in July's domestic Under-19 competition.
Kavindu Nadeeshan: The leg-spinner was Sri Lanka's standout bowler in last month's tour of the West Indies, with his haul of 18 wickets doubling that managed by any of his teammates. Heading into the World Cup, he now boasts Youth ODI wickets at 20.52 each and is regarded as the country’s top young spin prospect.
Sri Lanka's captain is the most capped Youth ODI player since the 2018 World Cup concluded
No side has played more than Sri Lanka's 34 Youth ODIs since the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup, with four members of Nipun Dananjaya's final 15 within the top 10 most capped in the format in that time.
Dananjaya himself sits top, having captained in all 32 of his appearances in that time, and he is sure to be on top of any relevant net run rate calculations if his side has to close out the group stage against Japan by any specific margin to ensure Super League qualification.
Sri Lanka was the final nation to declare its 15-man squad for the tournament, but despite fielding 41 different players at Youth ODI level since the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup, two new players have been introduced to debut in South Africa.
While there is a core of players with 20 or more caps in that time – Nipun Dananjaya, Navod Paranavithana, spinning all-rounder Sonal Dinusha and wicketkeeper Kamil Mishara – the side's progress at the business end of the competition may well depend on how less seasoned players like batsman Thaveesha Abhishek and slinging seamer Matheesha Pathirana rise to the challenge on the international stage.
Nipun Dananjaya (c), Thaveesha Abhishek, Ashen Daniel, Amshi de Silva, Ravindu de Silva, Sonal Dinusha, Dilshan Madushanka, Kamil Mishara (wk), Kavindu Nadeeshan, Navod Paranavithana, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilum Sadeera, Mohamed Shamaz (wk), Ahan Wickramasinghe, Chamindu Wijesinghe
Sunday, January 19: India v Sri Lanka (Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein)
Wednesday, January 22: New Zealand v Sri Lanka (Mangaung Oval)
Saturday, January 25: Sri Lanka v Japan (Absa Puk Oval, Potchefstroom)
Top image: Sri Lanka Cricket
Bottom image: ICC / Getty