Colombo: Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) jumped to the defence of the Shikhar Dhawan-led Indian team touring the island nation, saying that the team is an accomplished one and not a second-string as former national captain Arjuna Ranatunga has called it.
“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,” SLC said a statement.
“Out of the 20-member India squad, 14 players have represented India across all formats or in some form, and not a ‘second string team,’ as claimed,” the statement said, referring to Test, ODI, and T20I cricket.
Ranatunga lashed out at the Sports Minister and SLC, saying that a second-string Sri Lankan side should be fielded for the series.
“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 had 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.”
The Sri Lankan board, however, said that sending two separate teams is a norm nowadays as cricket boards maintain specialist squads.
“It also should be mentioned that this tour is taking place, whilst the national Test team of India is touring England to play a 5-match Test series vs England,” SLC said in the statement.
“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 squads.”
SLC further said that tight scheduling has also forced teams to keep different squads for different formats.
“Apart from it, maintaining separate squads enable cricketing boards to fulfill their international commitments unhindered, such as the ICC Future Tours Program,” said SLC.
Former captain Rahul Dravid is coach of the Indian limited overs team touring Sri Lanka.