Mohan de Silva, the SLC secretary, praised Rahul Dravid for his key role during India’s recent tour of Sri Lanka amidst growing covid-19 concerns. India were left with exactly 11 players for the last two T20Is, as the rest of the them were forced to isolate after Krnual Pandya was tested positive.
India’s tour to Sri Lanka last month, where the two sides faced off in three ODIs and T20Is each, was successfully completed amidst growing covid-19 concerns. The series had initially been postponed by three days after the positive cases in the Sri Lankan camp.
The schedule was further disrupted after Krunal Pandya was tested positive midway through the tour, with Yuzvendra Chahal and Krishnappa Gowtham too, being affected later. The tour, however, went on, with India winning the ODI series 2-1, while Sri Lanka took the T20Is by a similar margin.
SLC acknowledged Rahul Dravid, India’s interim head coach for the tour, for his positive role during challenging times.
"If he wanted, he could have easily taken the team back to India," Mohan de Silva, the secretary of SLC, told Cricbuzz. "The most encouraging aspect of the whole Pandya episode was the role of the support staff of the Indian team, led by Rahul. If he wanted, he could have easily taken the team back to India. He was very accommodating and understood the situation. He appreciated the efforts we were taking and realised that we were doing our best to protect the boys from virus dangers with all bio-secure guidelines."
The unavailability of the players meant that India were forced to field a lesser balanced side for the last two T20Is, with just five specialist batsmen and Bhuvneshwar Kumar slotted to bat at No.6. Dravid however, took the challenge in a situation that was beyond control.
"We have 11 players available and we will play them. There is nothing to feel sorry about,” the former India captain had said just before the start of the 2nd T20I on July 28. “All the 11 are good enough to make the XI and that's why they were picked in the squad. I feel it is exciting to see them perform. Yes, the balance of the side will be a little fragile because we can only pick from the players available."
The successful conduct meant that the SLC reaped dividends of over 280 crore Sri Lankan rupees.
"It was a very, very valuable tour for us. We were looking forward to it for a long time. We were very grateful to BCCI top brass - Jay Shah and Sourav Ganguly - for acceding to our request to play three additional T20Is. Originally the tour was for only three ODIs. It enhanced the commercial value of the whole tour. We ended up earning almost $ 14.5 million. It is a huge boost to our finances," revealed de Silva.
The SLC secretary also credited the role of the cricketing boards and the governments of the two countries for playing their parts.
"There were concerns from many quarters - the BCCI, the Indian High Commission and the team management,” he said. “We were in regular touch with all of them. In the Indian High Commission in Colombo, they were very concerned; sought regular updates.
The officers were in constant touch with us, particularly after the Krunal episode. They wanted the details of arrangements made. The relations were cooperative and cordial and they went a long way in the continuation of the tour."