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Ranatunga criticizes playing India’s ‘second-string’ team

July 2, 2021 GMT

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga said it was disrespectful for India to send a “second-string” team for an upcoming series and that his country’s cricket board should have insisted on higher standards.

India’s 20-member squad led by Shikhar Dawan is in Sri Lanka for three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals starting July 13. It largely consists of new faces as the senior team is currently in England to play a test series.

“I saw the Indian team arriving and I won’t say that it is India’s first team,” Ranatunga told reporters. “The cricket administration and the sports minister has agreed to play a second-string team from India. Our cricket standards may have gone down today but we have an identity and a reputation.”

Ranatunga, captain of the 1996 World Cup-winning squad, said Thursday that Sri Lanka Cricket should have insisted on playing against India’s best team and claimed the board is interested only in broadcasting revenue from the matches, rather than promoting cricket in the country.

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Sri Lanka has faced an unprecedented fall in performances in recent years. The team currently in England has lost the Twenty20 series 3-0 and already lost two of the three ODIs.

Sri Lanka Cricket refuted Ranatunga’s allegations, saying Friday that the Indian team touring Sri Lanka is a strong squad.

“Out of the 20-member India squad, 14 players have represented India across all formats or in some form, and (is) not a ‘second string team’ as claimed,” it said in a statement.

“This is the latest norm in the cricketing world, especially the full ICC (International Cricket Council) member countries, as they maintain specialist squads and players for each format of the game,” it continued. “The aim of such arrangements is to be competitive in each format of the game by maintaining specialist players and squads.”

The countries play three ODIs starting July 13 followed by three Twenty20 internationals.

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