India yet to plan against unknown Sri Lanka: Bhuvneshwar (2nd Ld with SL squad news update)

Sri Lanka, plagued by suspension of players due to breaching of Covid-19 protocol and injury withdrawals, are an unknown side that the Indian team here hasn’t yet planned against, ahead of the six-match limited-overs series this month, said vice-captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar on Friday.

“We don’t know what their squad will be. But what I saw in England [is that] they have a talented squad. [A] few performed well. We want to win the series. We don’t know what their team will be. Once we know we can plan on that,” said the new ball bowler Kumar in a virtual interaction on Friday.

The 20-member Indian squad and reserve players have already spent 17 days here together. They, however, remain unsure of the Sri Lankan team they will face in the first ODI on Sunday.

Sri Lanka Cricket announced the squad for the series, comprising three ODIs and three T20Is, only on late Friday.

The series was supposed to start on July 13 but was delayed after a couple of Sri Lankan backroom staff members, including batting coach Grant Flower, had tested positive for Covid-19. That pushed the Sri Lankan limited-overs squad returning from England this month into quarantine.

But more than that, the Sri Lankans will miss key players.

Three of their key players — wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella and batsmen Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka — have been suspended on disciplinary grounds, for breaching the bio-bubble protocol, while batsman Kusal Perera and bowler Binura Fernando are injured.

Kumar, though, said that the series will be important to prepare for the T20 World Cup,which will take place in October-November.

“T20 World Cup is around the corner. We want to do well in these matches. We have just three matches, so you know individually, it is not only about performing. It is also about how you want to execute your skills. Sometimes you do well with the execution part but won’t get wickets. Of course, you want to win which will help us get going into that tournament i.e. we would have won the last international series before going into the T20 World Cup,” added Kumar.

Calling the experience of working with Indian white-ball team coach Rahul Dravid ‘very good’, Kumar said, “It has been very good. [We] spent 14 days in quarantine in Mumbai. After seven days we were out practicing, we met him there first.”

Kumar said Dravid has kept things very simple and does not complicate.

“He has kept things really simple. He didn’t try to make them complicated. There are young guys and senior guys. Everyone is listening to him whatever he is planning. It has been a good experience. He has never tried to make things complicated. When things are simple, you tend to enjoy.”