Ravi Shastri said that the motivation to stay no. 1 in the Test rankings would be enough for players as they prepare to play an under par Sri Lanka away from home. In recent years, Sri Lanka, who have previously been ranked no. 2 in Test matches, have tapered off largely due to their inability to replace retired greats and a general struggle to remain fit. India are touring Sri Lanka for a three match Test series that will be followed by a five match ODI series and a lone T20I.
But Shastri said that the Indian players are wary of Sri Lanka’s record at home. “If you look at their track record at home, it is as good as any side in world cricket, if not right up with the best,” Shastri told reporters in Colombo, “As the Indian team we are not going to take them lightly, we are not going to take things for granted. We’d like to be consistent so we’ll keep that No.1 position in place, and above all look to improve. If you don’t look to improve there is no point in playing.”
While India have been no. 1 in the Test rankings since 2016, Sri Lanka are seventh. It is the first time India tour the country since they won a Test series 2-1 two years. India had to come back from a defeat in the first Test to complete the series win. “That particular series in Sri Lanka is the series that gave us belief. After being 1-0 (down) in the series the victories were hard fought,” said Indian captain Virat Kohli, “What it taught us was to come together and come closer as a team and understand our strengths and weaknesses. After losing that test in Galle, which was quite a dent for us mentally, the way the team came together was iconic.” The first match starts on July 26 at Galle.