Team for Sri Lanka compensates for lack of ‘A’ tours

NEW DELHI: When the Indian cricket board (BCCI) announced a team of 20 players and five net bowlers for the white-ball series in Sri Lanka next month, it triggered a debate over some veteran domestic performers missing out.
When the tour was announced, it was believed that the series was intended to keep India’s white-ball specialists in touch with the game and prepare for the T20 World Cup in October-November.
However, while the series could serve as an audition for some players, TOI understands that the board is looking beyond the T20 World Cup. National Cricket Academy (NCA) director Rahul Dravid and bowling coach Paras Mhambrey will resume their coaching duties in Sri Lanka after a gap of 18 months. The squad is likely to leave for Sri Lanka on June 28 after completing quarantine in Mumbai. That will give Dravid around a month with the boys as the three ODIs and three T20Is end on July 25.
The makeup of the squad bears a resemblance to how India ‘A’ squads have been picked in recent years — giving several rookies the platform to make a mark. There have been no ‘A’ tours for 18 months and none seem to be on the horizon due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So, this is an attempt to compensate for the lack of ‘A’ tours.
One of the notable names missing from the team is Saurashtra’s left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat who had taken 67 wickets in the last Ranji Trophy season. The 29-year-old may have just found himself on the wrong side of the current policy to build a strong bench strength.
When Rahul Dravid had taken charge of India ‘A’ and U-19 teams in 2015, it was decided that the developmental teams will mostly have young and uncapped players. “It was felt that these developmental sides will only be finishing schools. There’s no point in playing players who have already played for India and have been in the domestic circuit for 8-10 years. These veterans will be only considered for India selections,” a BCCI source told TOI. “This tour will give Dravid an opportunity to take stock of the pool. And as for Unadkat, he can’t be treated like a net bowler with his experience,” the source added.
The board is clear that the need to work on the pool of players can’t be put on hold for a long time. It is believed that the likes of Devdutt Padikkal, Prithvi Shaw, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Chetan Sakariya should be exposed to high performance training more often.
The tour will be practice for seniors like Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal and Bhuvneshwar Kumar while it will be a trial for the likes of Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Kuldeep Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy as the selectors prepare to pick a jumbo squad for the T20 World Cup later this year.
This squad has also been picked keeping an eye on the T20 World Cup next year and the need to nourish the now enviable pace-bowling resources in the country. One may recall that Nitish Rana was a part of India ‘A’ T20 teams in 2019. This Sri Lanka tour is just an extension of it.
Thus, the selectors picked the likes of Ishan Porel, Sandeep Warrier, Arshdeep Singh and Simarjeet Singh as net bowlers. The selectors will also have a look at spinning options who can serve after this year’s T20 World Cup.

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