Sri Lanka women play through shock

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They were almost 11,000km away from the gun shots and horror but the terrorist attack hit at the hearts of the Sri Lankan women's cricket team in Australia this week.

Sri Lanka arrived in Canberra yesterday to prepare for its ICC women's world cup match against England at Manuka Oval today.

Four days after the Sri Lankan men's squad was ambushed in Pakistan the women's coach was still emotional when he was asked about the impact it had on his team.

Chitral Mendis captained Sri Lanka men in 1980 a year before Sri Lanka became a Test match nation and has close friends in the current squad.

But on the eve of his first world cup as a coach he was determined not to let shock sweep through his team.

''I talked the girls about the incident and I said everybody's happy with their families now so we will settle down with that,'' Mendis said.

''No [I don't have concerns about security] ... and just for the women to be here is very, very big.''

Masked gunmen opened fire on the Sri Lankan team bus on Tuesday in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore, killing eight and wounding 19 including seven players and an assistant coach.

The event shook the cricket world. Security was beefed up on Australia's Test tour of South Africa.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan will play at Manuka on Monday and at least three extra Australian Federal Police officers will patrol the oval.

Despite increased security, Canberra organisers expected no trouble on the day, and neither did Mendis.

He coached some of the current squad and admitted to being upset when the news broke.

''Everybody is under Sri Lanka cricket and of course the women know the mens players,'' an emotional Mendis said.

''They are my friends and when I was coach of my school, most of the guys played school cricket so they are very friendly with me.

''I got a definite shock about it when I heard, but I didn't feel nervous about anything ... it was a sad day for me and for cricket in Sri Lanka and it was upsetting.

''I'm sure it will never happen again in cricket in the world, it's not a good thing and I'm not blaming anyone, it's a terrible thing.''

The terrorist attacks have overshadowed the start of the two-week women's world cup which begins today.

England and Sri Lanka are in group B with India and Pakistan while defending champion Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies will fight for the right to advance from group A.

Mendis was hopeful his team could progress through the group stages and surprise its more established opponents.

Reigning ICC player of the year and England skipper Charlotte Edwards will be one of the most lethal forces in the tournament.

The 29-year-old is playing in her fourth world cup, her first as captain, and she has plans to take apart the Sri Lankan line-up at Manuka oval today.

She made her debut when she was 16 and scored 173 not out less than a year later during the 1997 world cup.

Now Edwards wants to take the trophy back to England for the first time since 1993.

''I think that everyone is just pleased that the tournament has come around because there has been so much hype,'' Edwards said.

''We believe we can do well and I think Australia are definitely the favourites but I think ourselves, India and New Zealand will be right in one of the closest world cups.''

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/sport/cricket/sri-lanka-plays-through-shock/1452970.aspx?storypage=0

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