Skipper Shikhar Dhawan said having as many as six spinners in the Indian limited-overs squad here for the three ODIs and three T20Is against Sri Lanka does not mean everyone will get an opportunity and confirmed that only the best will get to play as the team is aiming to win both the series.
“We have not thought on who will play how many matches. [We will play] the way a series is played. Our goal is to win the series. We have to field the best playing XI. We will play the spinner we feel will perform the best. It is not like that if we have got these many, we will play all of them,” said Dhawan in response to a question from IANS during an interaction with the media on Saturday, the eve of the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
India are in Sri Lanka with leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy, off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham, left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya and Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav.
Former national selector Sarandeep Singh had recently criticised the current selection panel for picking six spinners. He had told IANS that it will be impossible to play all of them and carrying so many will put unnecessary pressure on the established duo Chahal and Yadav, who have won many matches for India in the past.
“They both share great chemistry, Kuldeep and Chahal. They have won so many matches and so many series for us and they are bowling really well and even Rahul Chahar is also a great spinner. We have got a bunch of boys who are bowling well. They are on top of their game and fitness and yeah, I am sure you will see them doing well and taking wickets,” said Dhawan of his premier spinners.
If Pandya gets to bowl and ends up playing as a bowling all-rounder, then it is possible that both Chahal and Yadav, who haven’t been played together of late, could be picked as India will have an extra pace option and can play one seamer less.
Dhawan added that he is not overly concerned with the second string jibe from former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga. Ranatunga had lashed out at Sri Lanka Cricket for accepting a series against what he called a ‘second-string’ Indian team.
Dhawan said the jibe does not bother him.
“I feel this Sri Lankan team is a young team and they have got good players. If they feel it is a second [string] team, that is their feeling. We will go ahead and play Sri Lanka. It is an international match. We have to seize the opportunity,” said Dhawan.
The 35-year-old said that the Indian team wants to win this series and not take it only as preparation or to pick options for the T20 World Cup.
“All series that we play for India are important. All the players know how important they are. Whatever matches we play, whether there is World Cup or not, the process of the player is the same. So that he does well in all series and maintains consistency,: added Dhawan.
:There is competition in our team,in the Indian team, and it is good. I will only want that whatever we play here, we should win and do well as a team. If we do well, the doors open on their own, no matter who it is,” he said further.