NEW DELHI: Bowing to intense political pressure, top Sri Lankan players were withdrawn from the Chennai matches of the high-profile IPL after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa refused to host them in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese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 Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making it clear that IPL matches would be permitted in the state only if there were 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 will start from April 3.
Chennai, the home for Chennai Super Kings, will stage 10 matches in all, 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 IPL 2013 League matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly”, IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said in statement.
Shukla said that 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”, the 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.
“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.
For the league stages, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils and Hyderabad Sunrisers will have to bench key players like Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, respectively for their matches in Chennai.
Analysts say the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils has an emotional and often a political echo in Tamil Nadu.
India supported military action against Tamil Tiger rebels for most of the Sri Lankan war, but always cautioned Colombo about protecting the rights of the Tamil civilian population and ensuring their welfare.