While the Indian Test squad are currently in the UK, preparing for the upcoming five-match series in the longest format against England, the limited overs Indian side has departed for Sri Lanka to play the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka, beginning 13th July, 2021.
India have named a long 20-member squad for the Sri Lanka series, which comprise of a mixture of youth and experience. All of them would be keen to feature in the playing eleven and get at least a game on the tour. However, the head coach, Rahul Dravid categorically stated that the team’s main objective would be to win the series and not to give opportunities to all the players.
Rahul Dravid - While Addressing Media
"There are a lot of people in the squad who are pushing for places ahead of the T20 World Cup coming up, but the key goal is to try and win the series," Dravid said on Sunday, ahead of the team's departure to Colombo for three ODIs and three T20Is.
"That is the primary objective. Hopefully if people can get the opportunity to put in some good performances in the course of us trying to win the series, they will give themselves the best chance of knocking on the doors of the selectors."
Rahul Dravid explained that given there’s only a handful of games to be played in the series, it won’t be possible to ideally give opportunities to all the 20 players. Nevertheless, it will be a learning curve especially for those who will be going for their first Indian tour. The series will mark as an opportunity for them to learn from the senior members of the squad.
"There are a lot of young kids, even if they don't play, it's a great opportunity to be on a trip with the Indian team and interact with seniors like Shikhar, Bhuvneshwar, Hardik," Dravid said.
The upcoming three-match T20 series will perhaps be the last international T20 series before the T20 World Cup. There will be IPL, though, for players to make their case for the T20 World Cup. Head coach, Rahul Dravid is yet to talk to the Indian selectors regarding the playing eleven for the Sri Lanka series.
"These are the only three games before the T20 World Cup and I am sure the selectors and management would have a fair idea by now on the squad they are looking for. There is going to be an IPL as well in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup," Dravid said.
"This gives a few people an opportunity for the one or two places the team management or the selectors may be looking for, and give them a few more options. That would be the goal for the next three T20s. Whether they get selected for the T20 World Cup or not is a call that the selectors will take. But by no means is it a life and death kind of a situation. It doesn’t mean if you don’t have good tour, you won’t make it, ort if you have a great tour, you’ll be an automatic pick. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Dravid also elaborated on the possible discussions that he will have with the main squad in England regarding trying out certain combinations in the series in Sri Lanka keeping the T20 World Cup in mind.
“We have a couple of selectors travelling with us. So, it gives me a chance to interact with them to see what their plans are. I dind’t want to disturb the team management during the WTC Final but I will touch base with them in the next couple of weeks and see what their thoughts are, what they are thinking about the T20 World Cup and see if we can implement some of those plans for the next three games,” he said.
Rahul Dravid also said that it is important to be practical in the post-pandemic world regarding future tours, adding that multiple squads are the solution for the short term keeping quarantine arrangements in mind.
“This is a unique situation in terms of quarantines and rules that have led to this situation. With quarantines structured as they are and travel restricted, at least in the short term that plan allows you to complete tours and engagements,” Dravid said.
“There are many other stakeholders involved: other boards, broadcasters, media rights. In the short term, multiple squads may be a good idea to deal with the pandemic situation but in the long term, more discussions are needed,” he added.
Shikhar Dhawan - The New Indian Skipper
In the absence of senior members like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan has been handed the responsibility to the lead the side. Dhawan expressed his excitement on leading the team and is looking forward to have a great time with the bunch of players and head coach Rahul Dravid.
The newly appointed limited overs skipper Shikhar Dhawan said that the team is a nice blend of experience and youth. "The boys are doing smart work and are looking forward to these matches. The players have already performed well. The team is a nice blend of experience and youth," he said.
"It is a great honour for me to be the captain of the Indian team and looking forward to it. At the same time, as a team, we are working with Rahul ‘Bhaiya’ (Rahul Dravid),” he added.
He recounted his days playing under the guidance of Dravid for India A and said that the team is looking forward to gain inputs from him on the Sri Lanka tour.
"I have played under his coaching once for India A, so I feel that we guys sync together, the support staff and the team and we are looking forward to this series," he added.
India will land in Colombo on Monday early morning, following which, they will undergo a strict three-day mandatory quarantine. After undergoing the quarantine period, the players will then be allowed to begin training as per the guidelines set by Sri Lanka Cricket. The Men in Blue will face off Sri Lanka in three ODIs on 13th, 16th and 18th July. It will be followed by three T20s, scheduled to be held on 21, 23 and 25th July 2021.
All the matches will take place at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.