In Calcutta in June 1997 the selectors analysed Tendulkar's performance as captain, especially in South Africa and the Caribbean, considering whether or not to grant him an extension.
It was decided to keep him on for this tour on which the team would play in the Pepsi Asia Cup, hosted by Sri Lanka, then play a series against the Sri Lankans comprising two Tests and three ODIs.
After Tendulkar had declared India's innings at 537 in the First Test, Sri Lanka responded with a world record - Jayasuriya and Mahanama made a Test record partnership of 576 for the second wicket. Having had the worst of a drawn Test series, the Indians lost heavily in the one-dayers.
The players were at odds with their coach Madan Lal as they resorted to talking to him only on official matters after he made comments about the merits of individual players to a national daily newspaper midway through the tour. At the end of the tour the Board sensed that mishandled injuries and lack of fitness had contributed to the debacle and made changes to the support staff
Ratnakar Shetty, the secretary of Mumbai Cricket Association, was made manager.
The Board decided to have a permanent physical fitness specialist with the team, and appointed Kishan Kaul, the chief physical trainer with the Sports Authority of India.
The controversial tenure of Ali Irani as physio- “that saw him often criticised for not keeping the players match-ready”- finally came to an end. He was with the Indian team from 1987 to 1997 except for a gap of around 6 months.
His role was jointly taken by a fully-fledged doctor (the former Haryana cricketer Dr Ravinder Chadha) and the fitness expert.
The panel of selectors was: Ramakant Desai (chairman), Shivlal Yadav, Kishen Rungta, Mohinder Pandove (secretary of the Punjab Cricket Association),and Sambaran Bannerjee.
Unavailable: Javagal Srinath (after shoulder surgery he was advised two months of vigorous exercise before making himself available for international commitments);Salil Ankola.
The national selectors met in Calcutta on June 28 to select ‘probables’, a squad of players for a 9-day coaching camp in Bangalore early in July 1997. Of these 27 players, 14 were selected to play in the Asia Cup on 7 July.
Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Prasad, Kuruvilla, Jadeja, Kumble (vice-captain), Mohammad Azharuddin, Sidhu, Karim, David, Robin Singh, Kulkarni and Mohanty.
Tendulkar was reportedly unhappy that the side picked for the Asia Cup competition was without Vinod Kambli.
Two further players for the Test series against Sri Lanka would be chosen from the 13 not picked from the camp, namely -
opening batsmen Amay Khurasia and Gagan Khoda, batsmen Kambli, Laxman, Ajay Sharma, Kanitkar, S Sharath; spinners Venkatapathy Raju, Rajesh Chauhan, medium-pacers Harvinder Singh and Robin Singh junior, wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia and all-rounder Ajit Agarkar.
This selection meeting was to be held in Bombay on Thursday 22 July but at the insistence of Tendulkar and coach Madan Lal, it was deferred until after the Asia Cup Final.
The selection was left in chairman Desai's hands, in consultation with a small committee of Tendulkar and Madan Lal, so that the Board could save on the expense of calling the selectors back to Bombay for another meeting. The team management in Colombo wanted Laxman, but Desai insisted on Khoda.
Tour Party Announced26 July 1997.
Khoda and Kambli were added to the squad but the committee also replaced Karim with Mongia and Noel David with Chauhan.
Not selected:V V S Laxman,Harvinder Singh,Venkatapathy Raju.
Time between Asia Cup selection and team departure from India
(7 July - 12 July).
Test team announced 14 days after arrival in Sri Lanka.
On Wednesday 9 July the coaching camp at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium came to an end. Fourteen Indian cricketers, left Bangalore to spend a couple of days at their homes before flying to Colombo.
They landed in Colombo on 12 July to participate in the Pepsi Asia Cup, staying on to play two Tests and three one-day internationals in addition to two side games. Every match, except a one-day practice at Moratuwa, took place in Colombo or its suburbs.
The four players chosen to join the Test squad assembled in Chennai on 27 July before flying to Colombo the following morning. They arrived there late in the evening of 28 July.
•N M Kulkarni took Atapattu’s wicket with his first ball in Test cricket at Colombo RPS - he became the first and (to date) only Indian player to do this.
•Azharuddin and Tendulkar scored centuries in each of the two Test matches.
Other first-class matches
ϯ Minor matches
§ One-day internationals
Return to India
Noel David and Saba Karim were sent back after the Asia Cup matches on 27 July, as the selection sub-committee summoned Vinod Kambli, Rajesh Chauhan (given another lease of life after being cleared of a suspect action), Nayan Mongia, and Gajan Khoda.
At the end of the tour the team landed at Mumbai on the evening of 25 August 1997.