As many as nine Indian players were isolated after being identified as close contacts to Krunal Pandya who tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. Consequently, India had to make seven changes to their team for the second T20I. India also handed maiden T20I caps to four players – Nitish Rana, Chetan Sakariya, Ruturaj Gaikwad, and Devdutt Padikkal. This was something that was inevitable with so many players unavailable.
While few critics and fans were happy for the four youngsters making their debuts, several were critical of too many players getting rewarded with India caps during the limited-overs series. However, the Indian coach on the Sri Lanka tour Rahul Dravid said that players are selected in the squad because they are expected to feature in the playing XI at some point in the series.
“After we wrapped up the ODI series, we tried to give a few people a chance. Obviously, circumstances here have forced us to do it here even before we managed to win the series. But I truly believe that if you’re selected to play for India – whether it’s 15 players or 20 players – you’re good enough to play in the XI. I don’t really think that the selectors select you in the 15 just to warm the bench or for a holiday,” Dravid told the broadcaster ahead of the start of the 2nd T20I in Colombo.
While none of the debutants could make an impact in the second T20I, Dravid felt that every individual in the team had earned his cap and is good enough to play and win matches for India.
“They are earning their India caps. I don’t get that argument. Like I said, if you’re selected in a team of 15 – with Covid now it’s become 20, you are selected keeping in mind that you may need to play in the 11 at any given point of time. You have certainly earned the right to get that cap. It’s up to you to take that opportunity and perform. I truly believe everyone who’s here has earned it,” he added.
The last and the third T20 match will be played on Thursday with the series being tantalizingly poised 1-1.