Pakistan Minister alleges India’s threat caused Sri Lankan players to drop out of tour

The Sri Lankan team will reach Karachi on September 25 and play three ODIs before going to Lahore for three T20 matches and return home on October 9. (AP/File Photo)

A day after 10 Sri Lankan players refused to travel to Pakistan citing security reasons, Pakistan minister Fawad Hussain alleged India had influenced their decision. He said that "informed sports commentators" had informed him the Sri Lankan players were confronted by Indian authorities and were told they would be excluded from the IPL if they went to play in Pakistan.

Fawad tweeted: "Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they’ll 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."

The statement comes after the Sri Lankan Cricket Board (SLC) on Monday said that 10 players including captain Dimuth Karunaratne and veterans Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews refused to travel to Pakistan. The cricket board has its players the freedom to choose if they want to travel to Pakistan.

"The meeting was aimed at informing the players about the security arrangements during the forthcoming tour and also to find out their decision (either taking part or not) before the selection of squads for the ODI and T20I series," SLC said in a statement.

International cricket hasn’t been played in Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test match in Lahore on March 2009.

However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has maintained that the series will continue as per schedule despite the Sri Lankan players’ decision.

"We understand the situation the Sri Lankan board is facing and we know they can t force any of their players to come for the tour which still remains very important for us," a PCB official was quoted by PTI as saying.

"If this tour is successful, then just think on what grounds would the Sri Lankan board or even the Bangladesh cricket board not agree to play the ICC World Test Championship matches in Pakistan. Regardless of which player (s) are coming to the fact is it is the Sri Lankan national team which will tour Pakistan from this month and that is what matters to the board," he added.

The Sri Lankan team will reach Karachi on September 25 and play three ODIs before going to Lahore for three T20 matches and return home on October 9.

Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal, and Dimuth Karunaratne have opted out of the tour. Kusal Mendis was not available for selection due to an injury he suffered during the New Zealand Series.

– with inputs from agencies