Indian cricket Captain Virat Kohli (2R) shakes hands with Sri Lankan One-day International and Twenty20 Captain Upul Tharanga (2L) as India’s coach Ravi Shastri (R) and Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas look on during a press conference in Colombo yesterday, July 20. India will play three Tests, five One-day Internationals and a Twenty20 game in Sri Lanka. The first Test starts on July 26 in Galle.
The Indian cricket team is in Sri Lanka for a six-week-long tour in which they will play three Tests, five ODIs and a T-20. Today they will play a warm-up game at CCC before heading to Galle on Sunday to prepare for the first Test of the series that will be played from Wednesday.
Addressing journalists at the series launch, Indian Captain Virat Kohli recalled fond memories of touring the island.
“We still remember coming here after the tour of Australia in 2014. We were ranked number seven then in the world. From then on, the transformation started and I think that particular series in Sri Lanka was the series that gave us belief, coming back from 0-1 down in the series,” Kohli said.
The 2015 series was Kumar Sangakkara’s last. Sri Lanka won the Galle Test thanks to Dinesh Chandimal’s stunning unbeaten 162, but went on to lose the next two games and the series.
“As I mentioned, the victories were hard fought but what it taught us was to come together and come closer as a team and understand our strengths and weaknesses. Be defined in the roles that we play in Test cricket, and take the team higher in the rankings and within 12 or 14 months from Australia, we were the No. 1 side in the world.
“After losing that Test in Galle which was quite tough on us, the way the team came together was iconic as far as where we have come in the last two years is concerned. We definitely never take any game lightly. We never take any opposition lightly,” Kohli went on to say.
Ravi Shastri has taken over from Anil Kumble as Coach of the Indian team and he has been a regular visitor to the island both as a player and commentator.
“First stamp on my passport was Sri Lanka. As an 18-year-old kid when I came here as an Under-19 player. My first stint as a broadcaster was in Sri Lanka, in 1994. And now my first stint as a Coach, under that title, also happens to be in Sri Lanka. So obviously there is some connect,” Shastri said.
“As Virat mentioned, it is a fabulous island, some great people. Lots of fond memories with me and above all, you have got to respect the team,” Shastri added.
Sri Lanka vice-captain Upul Tharanga represented the team at the media briefing alongside Cricket Manger Asanka Gurusinha and Coach Nic Pothas. Captain Dinesh Chandimal was unwell.
Tharanga reminded journalists that Sri Lanka were facing a predicament like the current one when Australia arrived in the island last year as world’s number-one-ranked team, but that Sri Lanka went on to beat them 3-0. Tharanga added Sri Lanka will take a lot of inspiration from that series, for the upcoming series against the number-one-ranked India.