Kolkata: Shikhar Dhawan and his ban of merry men, who reached Sri Lanka on June 28 and went into quarantine, were seen chilling out at the moment. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released a group photo of them at the swimming pool of the iconic hotel Taj Samudra in Colombo with a tweet: ‘‘The joy of getting out of quarantine. All smiles.’’
The team, under the coaching of Rahul Dravid, will be playing three One day Internationals and as many T20s, was run down by the former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga as a ‘‘second level’’ side, but in reality, it packs quite a punch and is full of several of their white ball specialists.
Captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant are the five or six big names from their white ball set-up who are in England for the Test series, but the squad is full of proven customers like Dhawan himself, vice-captain Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Pandya brothers, leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, Surya Kumar Yadav, wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson - apart from a range of youngsters like Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal or Chetan Sakariya eyeing a spot in the T20 World Cup in the UAE.
Ranatunga, the Lankan World Cup winning captain of 1996, said the tour undermined the country’s “dignity” as he attacked Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka Cricket.
“The Indian squad that came to Sri Lanka is not their best, it is a second level team,” Ranatunga said. “Didn’t our sports minister or cricket administrators know this.”
“Sri Lanka may have gone down (in the rankings), 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.”
Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to its 1996 World Cup triumph, said the game’s administration had deteriorated and called for a major clean-up to improve playing standards and skills.
“The secret behind agreeing to an Indian B team is TV rights,” Ranatunga said. “The board wants to make money from this tournament even if it means pitching our players against a B team.”