The series marks the coaching return of Dravid, who is based in Bengaluru as the chief of the National Cricket Academy. The second string squad, led by Shikhar Dhawan, has six uncapped players.
“…I think it’s probably going to be unrealistic to expect us in a short tour like this with three games, or three one-dayers to give everyone an opportunity…and the selectors will be there as well,” Dravid declared in the pre-departure press conference.
Among the players who are fighting for a place in the T20 squad for this year’s World Cup are the capped trio of Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson. The Sri Lanka series starts with the ODIs from July 13, followed by T20s from July 21.
The World Cup, originally scheduled in India, is set to be held in the UAE in October because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three T20s in Sri Lanka hold more importance than the ODIs as it will be the last set of international games India play before the marquee event.
“There are a lot of people in this squad who are pushing for places or looking to cement their places in the World Cup coming up, but I think the key goal of everyone in the squad and in the team…is to try and win the series,” the former India captain said.
“These are the only three games before the World Cup. I am sure that you know the selectors and management would have a pretty fair idea by now as to what is the kind of squad that they are looking for.”
With the Test team in England at the moment, Dravid said this tour can’t be looked at as an India A tour where most players get to play.
Dravid has stated in the past that one of the reasons for his success as an India Under-19 and A coach was the strategy to give every travelling player a game to build their confidence.
“There is an opportunity for may be one or two places that, maybe, the team management or the selectors might be looking for, spots that they might want to fill, and give them a few more options,” he said.
“That would be the goal probably over the next three T20s and to win the series. It is slightly different (from the A tour). When you’re at a developmental level all of those tours are slightly different to something like this.
“It will be a great learning experience for the young kids even if they don’t get to play,” said Dravid.
When asked about Prithvi Shaw, who is making a comeback with this series, Dravid said the tour is also crucial for other players including Devdutt Padikkal and Ruturaj Gaikwad.
“It is important for a lot more people other than just Prithvi. The youngsters will be keen to do well and set a marker for the selectors.
“Whether they get selected for the World Cup, that is the call selectors and team management will take but a performance in a tour like this, it is certainly something selectors will take note of.”
The batting great said he has not spoken a lot with the team management in the UK but plans to do so after reaching Colombo. He, however, did not specify the discussions that he might have with them.
“There would be a couple of selectors who would be travelling with us. Once we get there we will be interacting with them and see what they are thinking,” he said.
“We have had a little bit of a contact with the management out there (in the UK)…haven’t disturbed them during the World Test Championship but we’ll probably touch base with them sometime over the next couple of weeks and see what their thoughts are,” he added.
In a rare instance, two India squads will be playing in different locations and Dravid said this could be a short term solution with quarantine restrictions taking a mental toll on the players.
“This is a unique situation in terms of the quarantine and travel restrictions. It is very hard to predict what is going to happen on a month to month basis (with COVID-19).
“When the travel between countries becomes restricted this could be done in the short term. Whether it is a long term solution? I am not sure. For that, we need to have more conversations with all stakeholders including other boards, sponsors, media rights and so on
“It does ease some pressure on the all-format players as it is becoming increasingly difficult for the same set of players to get through the restrictions that are in place.”
Dravid added the A tours, which have not been taking place due to the pandemic can only resume when the COVID situation improves worldwide.
“The priority, obviously, has been international cricket and international tournaments (amid the pandemic). So yeah, hoping that for the next few months if things improve then we can resume.”