Sri Lankan Sports Minister Harin Fernando has stated that the players have opted out as they are worried about their security after the 2009 incident. A Pakistan Minister had earlier claimed that India is forcing the players to make themselves unavailable, which has been comprehensively denied.
Sri Lanka is scheduled to travel in Pakistan later this month to play three ODIs and as many T20Is over a period of nearly two weeks. The tour is particularly significant for the home country because it heralds the return of proper international cricket to the country after a decade, with only a few short series and one-off matches having been played in Pakistan during the time period.
However, as many as 10 Sri Lankan players have withdrawn from the matches after a briefing regarding security with the country’s cricketing board. The list includes almost all of the senior personnel of the team, such as limited overs skippers Lasith Malinga and Dimuth Karunaratne, former captains Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera and Suranga Lakmal along with Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella.
"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," Fawad Hussain Choudhary, Pakistan’s Science and Technology Minister, had tweeted on Tuesday referring to the incident.
However, the Sri Lankan Sports Minister has outright denied such claims, stating the players fear for their own safety. The last time Sri Lanka had participated in a full tour of Pakistan, their team bus had been attacked by terrorists causing eight people to die in the incident, with several of them gravely injured including some of the cricketers.
"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 & we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan," Harin Fernando on Tuesday night, reported TOI.
The Board has decided to go ahead with the tour regardless of the withdrawal of participation and if the series are completed without any hindrances, the Lions may return in December to play a two-match Test series as a part of the World Test Championships.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi