Shikhar Dhawan and Co. are all set to play three ODIs and as many T20 internationals against Sri Lanka, starting July 13. The team has landed in the Island nation and is currently preparing for the series.
Ahead of the first ODI, there are a lot of question marks over India’s playing XI, bowling combinations and the opening combination etc. Given that most of the senior members in the squad are currently in England, the onus would be on the likes of Dhawan, Bhuwaneshwar Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya among others to guide the team to victory.
The upcoming three-match T20 series will mark the last T20 international series before the World Cup. The players would be aware of that and would want to leave a telling impression on the minds of the selectors with their performances.
Ranatunga’s calls Indian squad in Sri Lanka as a “second string” side
Amidst all this, Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup-winning captain, Arjuna Ranatunga came down heavily at the Sri Lankan Cricket Board for conducting the series. The former Sri Lankan cricketer criticised the administrators for inviting a “second-string” Indian side just for monetary gains. In his argument, he stated that the touring Indian side is a “second-string team” and inviting them to play a series is an insult for Sri Lankan cricket.
"This is a second-string Indian team and their coming here is an insult on our cricket. I blame the current administration for agreeing to play with them due to television marketing needs," Ranatunga had said.
SLC issues statement, calls Indian side a “strong squad”
Sri Lankan Cricket Board wasn’t too pleased with Ranatunga’s comments and issued a statement on Friday clarifying that India have sent a “strong squad” to play the limited overs series against the hosts.
The Board mentioned that out of the 20-member squad, 14 players have already donned the Indian jersey in some format or the other. As per their remarks, the touring side can’t be considered as a second-string side.
“Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) wishes to announce that despite claims made by various parties as reported in media, the national white-ball team of India currently touring Sri Lanka is a strong squad,” SLC said in the statement.
"Out of the 20-member India squad, 14 players have represented India across all formats or in some form. (Test, ODI, or T20I), and not a 'second string team,' as claimed," it added.
SLC further stated that playing specialist squads for different formats is now the norm in world cricket.
“It should also be mentioned that this tour is taking place while the national Test team of India is in England to play a 5 Test series,” SLC stated.
“This is the latest norm in the cricketing world, especially the full ICC member countries, as they maintain specialist squads and players for each format of the game,” it added.
SLC further corroborated that the aim of such arrangements is to be competitive in each format of the game by maintaining specialist players and squads.
It also said that maintaining separate squads enable cricketing boards to fulfil their international commitments unhindered, such as the ICC Future Tours Program.
India will be playing three ODIs against Sri Lanka on July 13, 16 and 18. This will be followed by three T20Is on July 21, 23 and 25.
All matches will be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.