How Team India reacted to Ranatunga’s second-string comment

‘This is a second-string Indian team and their coming here is an insult to our cricket’

The first response from the Indian team in Sri Lanka to the 1996 World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga’s ‘second-string side’ comment on the Shikhar Dhawan-led team, batsman Suryakumar Yadav said the players are not really thinking about that and instead are preparing for what he thinks is going to be an interesting series.

Ranatunga had said that BCCI’s decision to send a ‘second-string Indian side’ minus the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit, Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah and Sri Lanka Cricket agreeing to host them is an ‘insult’ to the Lankan cricket.

Asked about the team being called second-string and reaction within to it, Yadav quipped, “We are not thinking about that, we are just here to have some fun, enjoy this series and take a lot of positives from here.”

According to Yadav, the team atmosphere is very relaxed.

The high of a successful debut series behind him, Suryakumar, on Tuesday, said he would be looking to ‘start from the scratch’ in the upcoming limited-overs assignment against Sri Lanka, eager to learn from “calm and composed” head coach Rahul Dravid.

Yadav made his India debut in the T20 format during the home series against England, in which he scored a half century and was generally impressive. He is part of the Shikhar Dhawan-led second string India team, which will take on Sri Lanka in 3 ODIs and as many T20 Internationals starting July 13.

“Pressure will be there, because if there is no pressure, there is no fun, so as I said, it will be a great challenge and I am really looking forward to it,” said the aggressive right-handed Mumbai batsman.

Asked if a successful debut series would help him cope better with the pressure, Yadav said, “I think, that (debut series against England) was a completely different challenge and every-time you come, I mean for a batter, every-time you go in or play a different game, you start from scratch.”

“So, this (tour) also I have to start from zero and that was a different series and this is a different series, but the challenge remains the same, I have to go out in the park and perform the same way, what I did,” Yadav added in a virtual press-conference.

Yadav said that he would be working for the first time with Dravid.

“…it is a great opportunity for everyone, having a tour amid this situation, it is a great challenge and responsibility for each and everyone to come out here and express themselves.

“And the great thing is having Rahul (Dravid) sir around, I have heard a lot about him.”

“I think this is my first tour with him but I have heard a lot from many players that he is very calm and composed when it comes to this role,” added the 30-year-old.

The Mumbai player also said that his job with the national side is the same as it is for his IPL franchise Mumbai Indians.

“I think I have been doing the same thing what I did for my franchise back in the IPL. When I made my debut, the same happened, I did not do anything different, it was all the same.

“I have been enjoying that role really well in whatever position they send me to bat, I will be the same. I just go out and express the same way on how I do in every game and I really enjoy it,” he added.

Yadav also revealed that all-rounder Hardik Pandya bowled in the intra-squad game and in the nets. Pandya’s bowling has been severely restricted by his fitness issues in the past few months.

“He (Hardik) did bowl in the England series. During the IPL, he did not bowl. He bowled in the intra-squad game and he bowled in the nets. So, it is his and the team management’s call on how they want to go about it, but yes, he is bowling. That’s a very good sign,” said the Mumbaikar.

Yadav also bushed aside suggestions that adapting to the conditions would be a challenge here.

“…we have played in these conditions, we play in Mumbai, Chennai, where heat is heavy, humidity is high, and most importantly we have come here 15-20 days early to get acclimatised to these conditions, it will be fine,” he said.

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