Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul Dravid (Photo-BCCI)
Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul Dravid (Photo-BCCI)

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board has responded to former captain Arjuna Ranatunga’s comments that by agreeing to play against the Shikhar Dhawan-led India team, which he termed as second-string, they have insulted the island’s cricket, while first string India is playing Tests in England.

Indian white-ball team captained by Shikhar Dhawan and coached by Rahul Dravid will play three ODIs and three T20Is starting July 13 with all the six matches slated to be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo under lights. The 20-member contingent features six uncapped players with other members trying to claim a berth in the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE.

A Second-String Indian Team Coming Sri Lanka Is An Insult To Our Cricket: Arjuna Ranatunga
A Second-String Indian Team Coming Sri Lanka Is An Insult To Our Cricket: Arjuna Ranatunga

“This is a second-string Indian team and their coming here is an insult to our cricket. I blame the current administration for agreeing to play with them due to television marketing needs. India sent their best team to England and sent a weaker side to play here. I blame our board for that,” Ranatunga, a government minister until two years ago, told reporters at his residence.

The National White-Ball Team Of India Currently Touring Sri Lanka Is A Strong Squad: Sri Lanka Cricket

Arjuna Ranatunga, who led the Sri Lanka team to their maiden ICC trophy win in the 1996 World Cup, criticized the board for agreeing to host the Indian team, but the SLC has refuted that claim and mentioned that the Indian team touring under Shikhar Dhawan’s captaincy is a strong side and not a second-string one, as Ranatunga called them.

Rahul Dravid with Shikhar Dhawan (Photo-Twitter)
Rahul Dravid with Shikhar Dhawan (Photo-Twitter)

Sri Lanka Cricket pointed out that 14 of the 20 players have played for India across all formats and the Dhawan-led side is a “strong” one.

“Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to announce that despite claims by various parties as reported in the Media, the National White-Ball team of India currently touring Sri Lanka is a strong squad. 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,” SLC said in a statement.

Sri Lanka Board Counters Arjuna Ranatunga’s Allegations, Says Indian On SL Tour Not A Second String Team

SLC also said that thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic teams have resorted to fielding two sides simultaneously and it will be the first time India will field two different teams in international cricket. In England, Virat Kohli-led India will take on England in a 5-Test series, starting August 4.

“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. The aim of such arrangements is to be competitive in each format of the game by maintaining specialist players and squad. Apart from it, maintaining separate squads enable cricketing boards to fulfill their international commitments unhindered, such as the ICC Future Tours Program,” the statement read.

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