Ex-Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga may have disregarded India’s “second-string” side in Sri Lanka, but head coach Mickey Arthur feels the Shikhar Dhawan-led contingent is like an “IPL All-Stars XI”.
Ahead of Sri Lanka’s six-match white-ball series against India from July 18, Arthur heaped praise on the touring party and described it as an “incredible” bunch of players.
While the senior Indian side is in England for the five-Test series, a “B” team, coached by Rahul Dravid, will take on Sri Lanka in three ODIs and as many T20Is.
“We are under no illusion because we know this is a wonderful Indian team. The Indian team is amazing; they have got so many good cricketers – it is like an IPL All-Stars XI. They are an incredible bunch of players,” Arthur told Sportstar.
“For us, it is very much about giving game time to young players, looking at possible combinations going forward. We are very much in a transitional phase at the moment. We are trying out a lot of young players and trying out our best combinations.”
Arthur also spoke about his team’s disastrous outing in England and said that the endeavor was one of his toughest tours. The Sri Lankan side lost the T20I series 3-0 and then suffered a 2-0 defeat in the ODI series against the hosts.
Sri Lanka also missed the services of three seniors — Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, and Danushka Gunathilaka — after they were suspended and sent back home for violating COVID-19 protocols.
“It was incredibly challenging. We had gone down a route of trying to get a vision for the 2023 World Cup and trying to give the young players some opportunities. But around that, you also need some experienced players.
“We lost our No. 1, 4, 5 in one go, when they decided to go out and walk around Durham. It was really tough for us and we did a lot of soul searching in England. It was one of the toughest tours I have had in my 12 years as an international coach,” Arthur further said.