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T20 World Cup: Sri Lanka's Chamari Athapaththu eyes big goal for team in 2024

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Colombo, Feb 20 (IANS) One of the top players of 2023 in white ball cricket, Sri Lankan superstar Chamari Athapaththu has set her eyes on the big prize at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup later this year. After winning the ICC Women's ODI Player of the Year award, Athapaththu is eyeing a bigger goal later this year at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2024.

The Sri Lankan skipper recounted her incredible year in 2023, culminating in the big ICC award, and stated that going unsold at the Women's Premier League [WPL] auction was a big motivating factor behind it.

"Internationally it was the best year I have had in my career," Athapathuthu told Cricbuzz. "Not just as a batter, but as a captain, and even as a team, we performed really well in 2023. Thanks to those performances, I was nominated for the ICC Player of the Year, and T20 Player of the Year, and I won the ODI Player of the Year award. To be honest, I didn't expect to be named captain of the two teams of the year."

Athapaththu was the captain of the Women's ODI and T20I teams of the year named by ICC after her spectacular year, which saw the Sri Lankan team too achieve several milestones.

Athapaththu led Sri Lanka to a first bilateral series win over New Zealand. The top-order batter starred in both victories with a couple of fiery centuries that blew New Zealand away.

Her 108 unbeaten and 140 not out came in pressure chases and on both occasions, the opener was at the crease to guide her team to victory. "We beat New Zealand for the first time in Women's cricket last year too," Athapaththu said.

"We'd never beaten them in any format, but we won the ODI series and beat them in a T20I, which was massive for us as a team. Then we went to England and we were able to beat that English side in their own backyard too. Those are some of the best things that happened last year, but sometimes I felt like despite everything we were able to achieve, neither the team nor I really got the recognition we deserved," she added.

With a big check mark against her career now, Athapaththu says that she has achieved "every individual goal I have set for myself". But the veteran Sri Lankan player is aiming for a team goal later this year at the T20 World Cup and stated that she'd call it a day if the team could achieve the same.

"I've set myself a goal of playing for a maximum of another two years," Athapaththu said.

"I will say, this year a T20 World Cup is coming up. If we make the final of that tournament or win, I might retire the next day. If I look back, every individual goal I have set for myself, I have achieved. But what remains is that team goal and I'm going to give everything I can to achieve it," she said.



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