A day after a Pakistan minister made an outrageous claim which suggested an Indian hand in 10 Sri Lankan players pulling out of the upcoming tour of Pakistan, Sri Lanka Minister Harin Fernando has shot down all such theories. He rejected Pakistan Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry's reasoning that India used the IPL bait to pull Sri Lankan players out of the upcoming tour.
Fernando, who is Sri Lanka's Sports Minister, drove home the point that all the 10 players have opted out of the tour "purely" based on the 2009 incident when their team bus was attacked by terrorists which left eight people dead and several others injured.
'No truth to reports'
"No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan. Some decided not to play purely based on 2009 incident. Respecting their decision we picked players who were willing to travel. We have a full-strength team & we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan," he tweeted on Tuesday night.
Sri Lanka's top players, including T20I skipper Lasith Malinga and former captains Angelo Mathews, as well as Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella have all pulled out of the tour which starts on September 27 following a security briefing with the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board.
"The PCB understands and respects it is the prerogative of Sri Lanka Cricket to select the best available players for the upcoming tour for white-ball cricket. As far as the PCB is concerned, the tour is on and we look forward to welcoming the Sri Lanka team in Karachi later this month," a spokesperson said after the decision was taken.
Following this development, Chaudhry, who is Pakistan's Science and Technology Minister, said India played a part in this as it threatened the Sri Lankan players that they would lose their IPL contracts if they indeed went on the tour.
"Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they will 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," Chaudhry tweeted on Tuesday.
The limited-overs series, which features three ODIs and three T20Is, is set to run from September 27 to October 9. The ODIs will all be played in Karachi, before Lahore hosts the T20s.