Sri Lanka’s upcoming Pakistan tour for three ODIs and three T20Is lost a majority of star players, as they refused to tour citing security concerns in the nation, where Sri Lanka team bus was shot at by terrorists in 2009.
Pakistan’s Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhary has accused India of sabotaging Sri Lanka’s tour by threatening their players over IPL contracts. “Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they will be ousted from IPL if they don’t refuse Pak visit, this is really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities,” Chaudhry tweeted on Tuesday.
In response, Sri Lanka’s sports minister Harin Fernando has refuted the claims of his Pakistani counterpart and said that Indian board played no role in pull out of Sri Lankan players. He said that 10 players have opted out of the tour “purely” based on the 2009 incident when their team bus was attacked by terrorist which left eight people dead and several others injured.
Harin tweeted, “No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan. Some decided not to play purely based on 2009 incident. Respecting their decision we picked players who were willing to travel. We have a full strength team and we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan.”
Since then cricket has been suspended in Pakistan with only Zimbabwe, Kenya and a World XI touring there, apart from PSL matches. This is Sri Lanka’s first tour to Pakistan since that fateful 2009 incident. However, Sri Lanka’s top players, including T20I skipper Lasith Malinga, and former captains Angelo Mathews besides Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella, have opted out of the tour starting September 27 to Pakistan, following a security briefing with the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board.
Sri Lanka is slated to play three ODIs in Karachi on September 27, 29 and October 3, and as many T20Is in Lahore on October 5, 7 and 9 during the tour, before returning in December for the Test series that will be a part of the World Test Championship.