India Not Behind Our Players’ Boycott Of Pakistan Tour, Says Sri Lanka Sports Minister Harin Fernando

Written by N Krishnamurthy

Sri Lanka Minister Harin Fernando has rejected claims made by Pakistan Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry that India forced the players of the island nation to opt out of their upcoming tour against Pakistan. Fernando, who is Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister, 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.

“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,” he tweeted on Tuesday night.

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.

After this, Chaudhry, who is Pakistan’s Science and Technology Minister, said India threatened the players from Sri Lanka that if they travel to Pakistan, they would lose their 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.

Even though several senior players have refused to travel Pakistan, the SLC has chosen a relatively strong team for the upcoming ODI series with experienced Lahiru Thirimane is set to captain the side, Cricket Age reliably learns. Apart from Thirimane, other promising internationals – Danushka Gunathilika, Oshada Fernando, Shehan Jayasuriya, Lakshan Sandakan and Lahiru Kumara – have also been named in the squad.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are scheduled to play three ODI matches at Karachi National Stadium on September 27, 29 and October 2.

After ODI series, Sri Lanka are scheduled to play three T20I matches on October 5, 7 and 9. Later, Sri Lanka will host Pakistan for two tests in late December.


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N Krishnamurthy