Cricket: Rahul Dravid takes experimental India squad to Sri Lanka

Former India captain travelling with a second-string Indian side for a limited-overs tour starting next month in Colombo.

Rahul Dravid, coach of India A during Day Three of the Tour Match between England Lions and India A at New Road on July 18, 2018 in Worcester, England. [file:Tony Marshall/Getty Images]
Rahul Dravid has coached India A and Under-19 teams and is currently director at the National Cricket Academy [File: Tony Marshall/Getty Images]

Former India captain Rahul Dravid says separate teams for different formats is a short-term solution to easing the pressure on the country’s cricketers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dravid, who has coached India A and Under-19 teams and is currently director at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), is travelling on Monday with a second-string Indian side to Sri Lanka for a limited-overs tour starting next month in Colombo.

Shikhar Dhawan will captain India’s 20-member squad in the island nation for three one-day and three Twenty20 internationals starting July 13 while the Test team led by Virat Kohli are in England for a five-match series in August-September.

The Sri Lankan tour – featuring three Twenty20 matches and three one-day internationals – was originally scheduled for June last year, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ODI series will form part of the inaugural 2020-23 ICC Cricket World Cup Super League.

‘Ease pressure on players’

“In the short term, this will ease the pressure on a lot of players. It’s getting difficult for the same set of players to go through all the restrictions,” Dravid told reporters in a pre-departure news conference.

“In the long term, it will need a lot more discussion.”

Top international cricketers including Kohli have spoken about being “cooked” in bio-secure bubbles and quarantines during a series in England in March this year.

The next month, as India battled a ferocious second COVID-19 wave, a number of Indian and foreign cricketers, including bowler R Ashwin, withdrew from the Indian Premier League (IPL), which had to be suspended midway as the pandemic worsened.

On Monday, The second-string Indian team, which includes a mix of experience and up-and-coming talent, are in Mumbai for a mandatory quarantine of 14 days and will depart for Sri Lanka on Monday.

“There are a lot of people in the squad who are pushing for places or looking to cement their places in the T20 World Cup,” said the former captain.

“But the key goal for everyone in the squad is to try and win the series. Hopefully, people can get the opportunity to put in good performances in the course of winning the series, and knock [on] doors of selectors.”

Host India, which has eased some lockdown restrictions in recent weeks as it emerges from a brutal surge in infections and deaths in April and May, is looking to shift the T20 World Cup to the United Arab Emirates in October-November.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which will finish the suspended Indian Premier League in the UAE in September-October, is expected to make a decision on T20’s showpiece event in the coming days.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies