Bowing to intense political pressure, Sri Lanka’s leading players were on Tuesday withdrawn from the Chennai matches of the high-profile Indian Premier League after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa refused to host them in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese sentiments in the state.
Jayalalithaa wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making it clear that IPL matches would be permitted in the state only if there are no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff in these matches, beginning April 3.
A few hours later, the IPL Governing Council met to discuss the issue and decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in IPL League matches in Chennai.
The Governing Council will advise the nine IPL franchises accordingly, putting an end to the intense speculation regarding the fate of the Sri Lankan players.
Altogether 13 Sri Lankan players, two of whom are captains of their respective teams, are taking part in the sixth edition of the league which commences on April 3.
Chennai, ‘home’ for Chennai Super Kings, will stage 10 matches, including two eliminators, and will continue to remain a venue.
"The IPL Governing Council met this afternoon to discuss the issue. The security of all involved in the IPL, whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance to the BCCI.
"The Governing Council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the Pepsi IPL 2013 League matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly," IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said in a statament.
Shukla said the Governing Council took the decision after the Tamil Nadu chief minister wrote to the Prime Minister stating that she would not permit the Sri Lankan players in Chennai.
"This is with reference to news reports last week that the government of Sri Lanka has issued a travel advisory that its citizens should exercise caution when travelling to Tamil Nadu," Shukla’s statement said.
"Today, the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has written to the Prime Minister of India stating that she will not permit the participation of Sri Lankan players or umpires in matches in Chennai during Pepsi IPL 2013", the statement added.
Shukla said the Governing Council had to take local sentiments and the safety and security of Sri Lankan players into account before taking a final decision.
"We had to take two things into account. We have to take the local sentiments into account and at same time the safety and security of the Sri Lankan players are paramount," he said.
"If the local administration has given something we have to listen to that as ultimately we need the help of the state authorities to hold the tournament like security arrangement. We can't ignore the advice from the local administration," he said.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, Jayalalithaa said BCCI may be advised by the Centre to prevail upon the IPL organizers not to allow Sri Lankan players, officials, umpires and support staff to take part in the tournament in the state.
"In view of the popular antipathy and anger in Tamil Nadu against the actions of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Tamil Nadu is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu," she said.
"The Government of Tamil Nadu will permit IPL matches to be held in Tamil Nadu only if the organizers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches," she said.
Sri Lankans in the IPL:
CSK: Akila Dananjaya and N Kulasekara]
Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardene (captain) and Jeevan Mendis
Knight Riders: Sachithra Senanayake
Mumbai Indians: Lasith Malinga
Pune Warriors India: Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews
Rajasthan Royals: Kusal Janith Perera
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Muthaiah Muralitharan and Tillakaratne Dilshan
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera.
Image: Mumbai Indians will be without the services of their pace spearhead when they play in Chennai.