Indian skipper Virat Kohli stated that the loss in Galle in 2015 was the start of their journey to reach number 1 ranking in Tests as the 2017 edition of Indo-Lanka dual was renewed at the Pre-Tour Press Conference held in Colombo.
They recorded victories against South Africa, in the West Indies, and then at home against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia last season to reach the pinnacle in rankings while Sri Lanka languishes at number 7 position.
Sri Lanka’s ODI and T20I captain Upul Tharanga faced the media alongside Kohli due to fever to Test skipper Dinesh Chandimal who slammed a match-winning 162 in that ‘famous’ Galle Test match,
“This is where it all started for us, that particular series. After losing that Test in Galle, which was quite a dent for us mentally, the way the team came together was iconic as far as where we have come in the last two years is concerned. We never take any opposition lightly. We give equal respect to any opposition because you can be a strong or a weak side but this game is the same game, everyone plays the same game, you play with a bat and a ball. I do feel that if we want to win series in any country in the world, we have to play good cricket and we have to work for it, which we are ready to do.” Kohli said.
That three-Test series in 2015 was Kohli’s first full overseas series as Test skipper. It was Kumar Sangakkara’s last series as an international cricketer. India went onto win the series, 2-1 inflicting heavy defeats in the 2nd and 3rd Tests.
After plenty of controversies surrounding India’s coaching job in the recent past following Anil Kumble’s resignation and renowned commentator, former Indian spinner Ravi Shastri was appointed as the head coach last week,
“The first stamp on my passport was Sri Lanka. As an 18-year old kid when I came to play as an U19 player and my first stint as a sports broadcaster was in Sri Lanka in 1994 and now my first stint as coach also happens to be Sri Lanka, so obviously, there’s some connect. It’s a fabulous island, great people, lots of fond memories for me and above all, you got to respect the team. If you look at their track record playing at home, it’s as good as any side in world cricket, if not right up to the best, we are not going to take them lightly, we are not going to take things for granted, we’d like to be consistent to keep our number 1 ranking.” Shastri said.
Sri Lanka were demoralizingly beaten by Zimbabwe in a recent ODI series, 3-2 before chasing down a record score of 388 in the fourth innings to win the one-off Test series and save their grace.
“I think we probably are in the same situation that Virat was talking about the Indian team being in a few years ago,” Sri Lanka’s interim head coach Nic Pothas mentioned. He was the fielding coach until Graham Ford’s recent resignation. “We are in that rebuilding phase. In that first series (against Zimbabwe), it was more about getting to know the players. And most importantly, try and change the culture. Unleash your potential, attention to detail, the intensity of the practice, and overall improvement. If you use those as your cornerstones which we will, we will certainly see some improvements in a very short period of time.”
India will play a two-day warm-up game on Friday and Saturday against Sri Lanka Board President’s XI led by Lahiru Thirimanne while the Sri Lanka squad which is unnamed yet will travel to Galle on Saturday.
India tour of Sri Lanka – Full Itinerary
1st Test – 26th to 30th July – Galle – 10.00 am
2nd Test – 3rd to 7th August – SSC – 10.00 am
3rd Test – 12th to 16th August – Pallakalle – 10.00 am
1st ODI – 20th August – Dambulla – 2.30 pm (D/N)
2nd ODI – 24th August – Pallakelle – 2.30 pm (D/N)
3rd ODI – 27th August – Pallekelle – 2.30 pm (D/N)
4th ODI – 31st August – R. Premadasa – 2.30 pm (D/N)
5th ODI – 3rd September – R. Premadasa – 2.30 pm (D/N)
Only T20I – 6th September – R. Premadasa – 7.30 pm