The IPL governing organizations, keeping in mind security concerns in Chennai, has taken a strict decision that IPL 2013 matches in Chennai will not feature any Sri Lankan cricketers or match officials. “Safety and security is paramount to us and we will advise teams to keep Sri Lankan players away from Chennai,” IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said. He also ruled out any change in venue from Chennai to another city.
The decision followed growing political tensions, stemming from the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka and capped by a letter written on Tuesday by the Tamil Nadu state government to the prime minister asking for a ban on Sri Lankan involvement in the Chennai leg of the IPL.
The letter, written by the chief minister J Jayalalitha, was unequivocal in its stand. “In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people.”
Earlier this month the DMK, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu and a key ally of the federal government, pulled out of the ruling coalition at the centre asking for sterner measures to redress alleged atrocities towards Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said it was monitoring the developments in India closely and was waiting for a travel advisory from the Sri Lankan government. “If there is a secondary threat to a player in a particular area then we will wait for the government’s advice,” Nishantha Ranatunga, the SLC secretary, told ESPNcricinfo. “We have written to Ministry of Foreign Affairs through our Minister of Sport to get feedback on our players’ safety.”
The “ban” will affect Chennai Super Kings, who play all their eight home matches in Chennai; however, their Sri Lankan contingent consists of only two fringe players, Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya. Franchises that will be significantly hit, at least for the lone game they play in Chennai in the league phase, include Mumbai Indians (Lasith Malinga), Delhi Daredevils (Mahela Jayawardene), Sunrisers Hyderabad (Kumar Sangakkara) and Pune Warriors (Angelo Mathews). Chennai also hosts some of the knockout matches, where these players would be crucial if their teams make it that far.
“We were first told by the IPL authorities about the problem in Tamil Nadu around a fortnight ago,” a franchise official said. “And after due consultations, almost all the franchises are happy losing one or two of their players for one game rather than the whole tournament.”
It is not yet clear whether Super Kings will decide to withdraw their Sri Lankan players for the season but if so, the players will be compensated with their contract fees for the entire season.
“We will abide by the IPL governing council’s decision that no Sri Lankan player will play in Chennai. For other games, these players will be available for selection in the playing eleven,” a spokesman for the Chennai franchise said.
The teams are taking this at lighter node as it will not be a drastic issue for the most franchises and teams can easily pull out the Sri Lanka players for the match as all teams will play just one game in Chennai . Spokesmen for both Delhi and Mumbai franchises said they are waiting to hear from BCCI.
Raghu Iyer, chief executive officer of Rajasthan Royals, said, “We are a part of the IPL ecosystem and will abide by the decision taken by the BCCI and IPL management in this regard.”
Abhijit Sarkar, director of the Pune franchise, said: “We are yet to discuss this issue and its impact on the team. Our priority right now is to finalise the captain for the team. Other things will be taken up after a day or two.”
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