In the wake of the political unrest against Sri Lankans in Tamil Nadu, former Indian Premier League champions Chennai Super Kings may tow the state government line to keep safe distance from sportspersons from the Emerald Isles. In a letter to the Prime Minister, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said no IPL matches will be allowed in Chennai if teams field Sri Lankan players, match officials or backroom staff.
Jayalalithaa said in her letter that with emotions in her state running high over the Sri Lanka issue, it would be unadvisable for the Lankan players, umpires and other officials to visit Tamil Nadu. "In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people," says the letter.
Chennai is scheduled to host 10 IPL games and ticket sales are going to start on Wednesday. CSK will play eight 'home' matches in Chennai the other two being playoffs - Qualifier 1 and Eliminator.
Interestingly, the president of the Board of Control of Cricket in India and CSK owner, N Srinivasan told NDTV in an exclusive interview on Monday that the IPL was in safe hands and all apprehensions around the participation of Sri Lankan players were exaggerated. He added the BCCI was unaware of teams being asked to drop their Sri Lankan recruits.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said in Pune on Tuesday that neither the BCCI nor IPL teams have been asked to drop their Sri Lankans players. "The present status is that all Lankan players will be playing and we have got no intimation from anyone as to who would be playing and who not. As of now, Chennai will host all matches," said Shukla.
In an exclusive chat, Shukla told NDTV that the security of Sri Lankan players is paramount.
The IPL chief said: "The cooperation of the local administration is required. We have to keep the sentiments of the local people in mind as well as the security of Lankan players. We are reviewing the situation with BCCI chief N Srinivasan and will take a decision keeping both issues in mind."
Meanwhile, the CEO of Sri Lankan cricket Board, Ajit Jayasekara said: "We have informed our defence and sports ministries our exchange of views with the BCCI...we have advised our players and informed our relevant authorities. We won't tell (the players) them don't go for the IPL but we did inform them about the situation right now and it's for them to take a decision."
Right-arm Lankan seamer Nuwan Kulasekara, who has been a limited-overs specialist and a vital cog in the CSK team, and latest recruit off-spinner Akila Dananjaya could be benched, according to indications from the Chennai management. This could be a compromise formula to ensure CSK play their 'home' games in Chennai.
Apart from Kulasekara and Dananjaya, the other Lankan players are as follows: Jeevan Mendis and Mahela Jayawardene (Delhi Daredevils), Sachithra Senanayake (Kolkata Knight Riders), Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians), Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews (Pune Warriors India), Kusal Janith Perera (Rajashthan Royals), Muthaiah Muralitharan and Thilakaratne Dilshan (Royal Challengers, Bangalore), and Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera (Sunrise Hyderabad).