Unofficial Test series: India 'A' faces star-studded Sri Lanka devoid of fanfare

The first of two four-day unofficial Tests begins on Saturday, with Priyank Panchal leading India 'A'.

Priyank Panchal will lead India 'A' in the two-match unofficial Test series against Sri Lanka 'A'. (file photo)   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

While the India stars bask in the glitz and glamour of the ICC Cricket World Cup in England, their less-heralded colleagues do battle in a setting devoid of fanfare. The likes of Priyank Panchal, Rahul Chahar and Jayant Yadav will be seen in action, as India ‘A’ takes on Sri Lanka ‘A’ in the opening four-day game, which commences at the KSCA Stadium here on Saturday.

The 22-day tour consists of two four-day games and five one-dayers. The India ‘A’ players can hope to get some valuable match practice, but chances of gaining an instant senior call-up are slim. The next assignment for the senior Indian team - post the World Cup - is a long couple of months away (tour of West Indies in August).

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Skipper Panchal, who scored an impressive 898 runs in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season, is simply looking forward to spending time in the middle. “I like to stay in the process, and be involved in the sport. Getting match practice like this is important, as it allows us to put all of our preparation to use. This is the start of the new season, so
we want to do well,” Panchal said, at the training session here on Friday.

After having a hit in the nets, Panchal had a chat with Rahul Dravid, the India ‘A’ coach. Dravid, however, is unavailable for the rest of the series. In Dravid’s absence, Sitanshu Kotak, Narendra Hirwani and Vijay Yadav will act as batting, bowling and fielding coaches
respectively.

The visiting team has a few familiar names in wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella, and the exciting spin duo of Akila Dananjaya and Lakshan Sandakan. Middle-order batsman Ashan Priyanjan, who has 23 ODIs and three Twenty20 internationals under his belt, leads the side.

Much like their opponents, the Sri Lanka ‘A’ players will have to wait a while before they can earn a senior team spot. After the World Cup, the Sri Lankan senior team next takes the field only in October, against Australia.

The squads

India ‘A’: Priyank Panchal (Captain), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Anmolpreet Singh, Ricky Bhui, Siddhesh Lad, Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube, K.S. Bharat, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav, Aditya Sarwate, Sandeep Warrier, Ankit Rajpoot and Ishan Porel.

Sri Lanka ‘A’: Ashan Priyanjan (Captain), Pathum Nissanka, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Sangeeth Cooray, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Kamindu Mendis, Priyamal Perera, Niroshan Dickwella, Akila Dananjaya, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya, Chamika Karunaratne, Vishwa Fernando, Dushmantha Chameera and Lahiru Kumara.

Match referee: Sunil Chaturvedi; Umpires: Rohan Pandit and K. Srinath

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