10 Sri Lanka cricketers drop out of Pakistan tour over security fears
COLOMBO: At least 10 Sri Lankan players, including T20 skipper Lasith Malinga and former captains Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, pulled out of the upcoming tour of Pakistan citing security concerns, officials said Monday.
The Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board said players in a preliminary squad were briefed on security arrangements for the six-match limited over series starting September 27 and and given the freedom to decide if they wanted to travel.
Following the briefing, ten players “chose to stay away” from the series of three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Twenty20 (T20) games, scheduled to begin on September 27 in Karachi, it said.
The other seven who opted out were Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal, and Dimuth Karunaratne.
The SLC’s chief security adviser, Roshan Goonatileke, had informed the Sri Lankan cricketers about the Pakistani Cricket Board’s (PCB) security arrangements that he observed during his visit.
‘Very tight security’
The tour was seen as another step towards reviving international cricket in Pakistan after years of isolation.
Following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test match in Lahore in March 2009, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.
Batter Danushka Gunathilaka said he believed security would be adequate. “From what they told us, I think there will be very tight security,” Gunathilaka said.
The Sri Lankans returned to Pakistan for a Twenty20 international in Lahore in October 2017 when Perera led the team. This time, he has decided to stay away.
‘Should not make a difference’
The PCB, on the other hand, said the Pakistan-Sri Lanka series would be held according to the schedule.
“It should not make a difference if senior [Sri Lankan] players come or not,” it added, noting that the cricketers opting out of the series was their internal matter and that the SLC chooses the players.
The Pakistan-Sri Lanka series starts September 27 and is scheduled to conclude on October 9, 2019.
Separately, Sri Lanka are also to play two Test matches against Pakistan but the dates and the venue are yet to be announced. The country’s sports minister, Harin Fernando, has rejected playing the longer versions of the game in Pakistan and suggested the Tests be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where Pakistan have played many of their home series.