Sri Lanka bracing for showdown with cricket powerhouse India: report

Colombo: Sri Lankan sports ministry’s decision to call back its cricketers from the ongoing IPL could lead to “a potentially explosive situation” as far as the board’s ties with the BCCI – world cricket’s financial powerhouse – is concerned, a leading newspaper here said.

The ministry had asked the Sri Lankan cricketers participating in the hugely popular Twenty20 league to return home early to prepare for the national team’s tour of England that gets underway on May 14.

“The latest development is almost certain to create a tense situation in Sri Lanka’s ties with the world cricket’s financial power house, the BCCI, which more or less dictates terms to the ICC and world cricket as a whole,” the Daily Mirror opined today.

The newspaper further said that the decision was taken after sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s criticism of India’s alleged shabby treatment of Sri Lankan politicians at the World Cup final in Mumbai.

In line with Mr. Aluthgamage’s policy of ‘country before IPL’, the ministry said a circular would soon be released by the minister that will make national duty mandatory for all Sri Lankan sportsmen above any other commitments.

Ten Sri Lankan cricketers are contracted to various franchises, of which two of them are being led by Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the islanders’ two senior most players.

Besides Deccan Chargers skipper Sangakkara and Kochi Tuskers Kerala captain Jayawardene, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Tilakaratne Dilshan and Nuwan Pradeep are some of the Sri Lankan players involved in the fourth season of the IPL.

“On a recommendation made by the national selection committee I have instructed the secretary of the board to inform the players to return by at least the 5th of May to prepare for the tour,” Mr. Aluthgamage had told PTI.

“When contracted players of Sri Lanka Cricket represent other tournaments, they should make sure that their priority lies with the national team and this will be strictly adhered to in the future,” Mr. Aluthgamage had added.

Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Malinga, Dilshan and Kulasekera look certain to be picked for the tour of England. The Sri Lankans are scheduled to leave for the tour on May 10.

The move by the Sri Lankan government is in complete contrast to the one that was taken three years ago when it cancelled a tour of England in 2009 to allow the players participate in the T20 league.