Sri Lankan batting great Aravinda de Silva has said that the young Indian team, led by Shikhar Dhawan for the limited-overs tour against Sri Lanka, cannot be termed a 'second-string' side, as claimed by his former captain Arjuna Ranatunga.
One of the most skillful batsmen of his generation who garnered four man-of-the-match awards in the 1996 World Cup, including in the semifinal against India and the final against Australia, de Silva currently serves as the technical committee chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket.
In a virtual interaction with Manorama ahead of the first ODI match in the series on Sunday, the 55-year-old talks about the depth of talent in Indian cricket and the role of Rahul Dravid in developing the young players.
World Cup-winning former captain Ranatunga has slammed the Sri Lankan cricket board for agreeing to host a second string Indian team, saying that it is nothing short of an insult. Do you feel Sri Lanka are being treated unfairly by other teams due to the national team's poor show of late?
The governing body for cricket in a country has complete authority over selection of teams for foreign tours. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) might be looking to strengthen the reserve group and give youngsters a chance to play international cricket. As there are only a few months left for the T20 World Cup, the BCCI might be keeping that too in mind. So there is no way you call any side a second string.
This series marks former Indian skipper Rahul Dravid's first assignment with a senior Indian side. How much will his presence motivate the youngsters?
He's an ideal choice for the role of Indian team coach. I had said this before. He can build a team with discipline and dedication and keep the players motivated and hungry for success. He has proved it by guiding India to the U-19 World Cup title in 2018. Also, these youngsters are lucky to have their childhood idol as the coach.
Who are the Indian players to watch out for in this series?
There are some incredibly talented youngsters who proved their mettle in the last two seasons of the Indian Premier League. It will be a big opportunity for the likes of Ishan Kishan, Devdutt Padikkal and Chetan Sakariya to make a positive impact. Kuldeep Yadav too will get a chance to revive his career.
Not many batsmen pulled and hooked fast bowlers as disdainfully as you. It is incredible that you did that wearing a helmet without a facial grill. What was the reason behind using visorless helmets?
Those helmets were light in weight so that one could play shots freely. In fact, I did not like wearing headgear while batting. When helmets were made mandatory during our tour of Australia in 1983, I had no other option but to wear a head protector. While most players wore one with steel visors, I decided to make it as simple as a cap equipped with ear guards. Now I feel I was extremely lucky to avoid any major injuries.