Ranatunga slams Sri Lanka over Indian ‘B team’ tour

Arjuna Ranatunga

Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga on Friday slammed the island’s sports leaders for agreeing to a tour by a “second level” India side.

Ranatunga, 57, said the tour undermined the country’s “dignity” as he attacked Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka Cricket.

India’s team led by Shikhar Dhawan arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday to prepare for the three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games that start July 13.

Top stars Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant were noted absentees. All are preparing for a Test series in England next month.

“The Indian squad that came to Sri Lanka is not their best, it is a second level team,” Ranatunga said. “Didn’t our sports minister or cricket administrators know this.”

“Sri Lanka may have gone down (in the rankings), but as a cricketing nation we have an identity, we have dignity, we should not be sending our best to play an Indian B team.”

Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to its 1996 World Cup triumph, said the game’s administration had deteriorated and called for a major clean-up to improve playing standards and skills.

He said authorities had not considered the humiliation Sri Lankan players would suffer. According to Ranatunga, cricket leaders considered only the financial gains.

“The secret behind agreeing to an Indian B team is TV rights,” Ranatunga said. “The board wants to make money from this tournament even if it means pitching our players against a B team.”

He said the lack of discipline showed by some Sri Lankan players was also due to poor management.

Vice captain Kusal Mendis, opener Danushka Gunathilaka and wicket keeper Niroshan Dickwella were withdrawn from the current England tour after they violated the Covid-19 bio-secure bubble.

The trio are expected to be dropped from the India series.