The first practice session of the Indian limited-overs team here on Friday started on a jarring note after former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga termed them “second string” and lashed out at Sri Lanka Cricket for staging such a side.
The Shikhar Dhawan-led team, which comprises some of India’s white-ball format regulars, ended room quarantine on Thursday night and took the field on Friday morning to prepare for the ODI series beginning on July 13.
The Indian team is allowed to practice within quarantine from July 2 to 4 after which they will be fully out of quarantine but remain in bio-bubble.
Though the team coach Rahul Dravid, who is on his first assignment with a senior Indian national team, had said before departure that they want to win the series, he had also added that the series would have very little bearing on the selection of T20 World Cup squad.
Dravid hinted that this tour was meant only to give experience to Indian youngsters.
“I am sure the selectors and management would have a fair idea by now as to what kind of squad they are looking for T20 World Cup…Can’t read too much into it (the Sri Lanka series). There might be the odd spots and people might raise their hands up and knock on the doors,” Dravid had said prior to departure.
Ranatunga hit out at his country’s board for lacking pride and accepting a second-string Indian side. He asked his country’s board to play second-string players. The top Indian Test players are in England for the Test series against the host.
“The Indian squad that came to Sri Lanka is not their best; it is a second-level team. Didn’t our sports minister or cricket administrators know this?” Ranatunga told Sri Lankan media.
“Sri Lanka [cricket] may have gone down, but as a cricketing nation we have an identity, we have dignity, we should not be sending our best to play an Indian B team.”
Only Shikhar Dhawan, Krunal and Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have established members of the Indian limited-overs side and can automatically walk into the playing XI of either the ODI or the T20I sides or both. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav too was a regular member of the side until recently but he is out of favour. Suryakumar Yadav (3 T20Is) and Ishan Kishan (2 T20Is) made their T20I debut only recently.
Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Chakravarthy, and Chetan Sakariya have not played any international yet.
Others like Prithvi Shaw, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Navdeep Saini have played only a few games and aren’t regulars.