Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board has heaped loads of praise on Rahul Dravid who had accompanied the Shikhar Dhawan-led Indian team on a white-ball tour of the island nation for three T20Is and three ODIs recently, for his role in ensuring the tour continued despite the COVID episode in India camp.
SLC said that tour could've been discontinued, but for Dravid, who, per the board, was responsible for ensuring the completion of the six-match series, which ensured SLC made a windfall in earnings.
After the fourth game of the six-match series, which was the first T20I, Krunal Pandya was found to be Covid positive leading to the isolation of eight other players. That left the Indian squad with exactly 11 available players to field in the remaining fixtures.
"If he (Dravid) wanted, he could have easily taken the team back to India. The most encouraging aspect of the whole Pandya episode was the role of the support staff of the Indian team, led by Rahul. If he wanted, he could have easily taken the team back to India. He was very accommodating and understood the situation. He appreciated the efforts we were talking about and realized that we were doing our best to protect the boys from virus dangers with all bio-secure guidelines,” Mohan de Silva, the secretary of SLC, told Cricbuzz.
India played the remainder of 2 T20I matches will the 11 available players which resulted in the home team winning their first-ever T20I series 2-1 against India. With all the planned six matches going ahead, the SLC reaped dividends of over 280 crore Sri Lankan rupees (approx. 107 crs INR).
"It was a very, very valuable tour for us. We were looking forward to it for a long time. We were very grateful to BCCI top brass - Jay Shah and Sourav Ganguly - for acceding to our request to play three additional T20Is. Originally the tour was for only three ODIs. It enhanced the commercial value of the whole tour. We ended up earning almost $ 14.5 million. It is a huge boost to our finances," the SLC secretary disclosed.
The SLC official also praised the roles of governments of both Sri Lanka and India for their role in ensuring the tour didn’t come to an abrupt end.
"There were concerns from many quarters - the BCCI, the Indian High Commission, and the team management. We were in regular touch with all of them. In the Indian High Commission in Colombo, they were very concerned; sought regular updates.
Usually without their (governments) approval, especially during pandemic times, the tour would not have been possible. The governments assess the situations before permitting a team to fly abroad and the same can be said of conducting one as well. The role of the governments cannot be overemphasized. By the way, we have a very young and enthusiastic Sports Minister (Namal Rajapaksa)," he signed off.
De Silva also mentioned that SLC did try to trace how Krunal contracted COVID-19 and said: "We are not sure still but it could have been because the hotel staff who served Grant Flower (who had returned positive test before the series) may have come in contact with Pandya too,"
India won the ODI series 2-1 under the captaincy of Shikhar Dhawan, while Dasun Shanaka-led Sri Lanka beat India in the T20I series by the same margin.