BCCI president Sourav Ganguly on Sunday said that the Indian cricket team, sans the top players, will tour Sri Lanka in July for a limited-overs bilateral series. The exact window for this series is still unclear but Ganguly confirmed that it would consist of three ODIs and five T20Is. Big names such as captain Virat Kohli and his deputy Rohit Sharma will not be part of the tour. Both Kohli and Rohit will be engaged in a marquee five-match Test series in England.

As per the ICC’s Future Tours Programme (FTP), India are scheduled to play three T20Is in Sri Lanka in July. Last year, India’s tour to the island nation was cancelled amid the pandemic. Men in Blue were scheduled to play three T20Is and three ODIs against Sri Lanka last June.

“We have planned a white ball series for the senior men’s team during the month of July where they will play T20 Internationals and ODIs in Sri Lanka,” Ganguly was quoted by PTI in an interaction.

Asked how will India segregate the two teams, Ganguly said that it will be a different side, which won’t have anyone from the outfit that will be in the United Kingdom at that time.

“Yes, it will be a team of white ball specialists. It will be a different team,” the former India captain said, making it clear that the cricket board also has the preparation of white ball regulars in mind.

There will be at least 5 T20 Internationals and maybe three ODIs in Sri Lanka.

India’s tour of England will end on September 14 and with the schedule of the remainder of IPL yet to be chalked out, the BCCI would want the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal to be match ready.

“The BCCI president is very keen that all our top players are match ready and since England doesn’t have a white ball leg the month of July can be utilized well,” a BCCI source told PTI while explaining the logic behind the tour.

For the Kohlis and Sharmas, they need not come from UK, which has in place some hard quarantine rules. “Technically, in the month of July there are no official senior India team matches. The Test squad will be playing intra squad games.

“So there is no harm in India’s white-ball experts getting some match time and selectors also get to fix the missing jigsaws in selection puzzle.”

This will give the team a chance to carry out experiments, like whether it will be Chahal, Rahul Chahar or Rahul Tewatia for the leg-break bowler’s slot, if Chetan Sakariya can be tried as left-arm option, whether Devdutt Padikkal or Shreyas Iyer gets fit to play by then.

Not to forget that Prithvi Shaw’s international career could get a boost with this white ball tournament, with Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan also getting a chance to stake their claims.