Upul Tharanga has reportedly told SLC that he is not willing to take part in the Lahore T20I, later this month, due to security concerns in the city. The limited-overs skipper's decision would mean that he would not be eligible to lead his side and Kusal Perera is now the favourite to get the nod.
Cricbuzz reported that only three players in the Sri Lankan team, including all-rounder Thisara Perera, have confirmed their participation for the match in Lahore.
As many as 40 players had earlier, in a letter, told SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala about their reluctance to play a match in Lahore and had gone as far as to request a change of venue. The current Sri Lankan squad still includes the likes of Suranga Lakmal and Chamara Kapugedera, who were a part of the team that was attacked by terrorists in March 2009 in Lahore.
Yesterday, reports had emerged that the Sri Lankan support staff had agreed to tour Lahore. The change in heart took place after Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur had a word with them about their concerns.
Sri Lanka's team manager Asanka Gurusinha added that the board was still trying to convince the top players for the game.
"SLC will be speaking to most of the players to find the best way forward. It seems like we will be there in Lahore for less than 24 hours. We are flying in and flying out. We are hoping that some of the players who had concerns will seriously look at it. There are a lot of positives taking place I should say. It is not nice to name the players but there
Gurusinha also recalled Pakistan and India's help after the Central Bank bombing in 1996 that left 90 people dead, which resulted in Sri Lanka hosting the World Cup along with India and Pakistan. After the bombings, Australia and West Indies had refused to play any of their games in Sri Lanka but PILCOM President Jagmohan Dalmiya intervened and a team consisting of Indian and Pakistani players played a friendly match against Sri Lanka before the World Cup. This resulted in Zimbabwe and Kenya agreeing to play their matches in Colombo and PILCOM ruled that since Australia and West Indies had refused to play in the island nation, their matches had been forfeited and the points were awarded to the hosts.
"Pakistan players came down to help us two weeks after the Central Bank bombing when we were in trouble in 1996. Had they not come down, I am not too sure whether Kenya and Zimbabwe would have honoured their World Cup fixtures in Colombo," Gurusinha added.