Sri Lanka on Tuesday rejected Pakistan minister Fawad Hussain’s claims that India had influenced its players in opting out of the upcoming Pak tour and said that the cricketers’ decision was “purely based” on the 2009 incident.
“No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan. Some decided not to play purely based on the 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,” tweeted Sri Lankan sports minister, Harin Fernando.
Fernando reaction comes in the response to Pakistan Science and Technology Minister Hussain’s remarks that Sri Lankan cricket players opted out from the Pak tour after India threatened to oust them from the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Hussain, infamous for making ridiculous statements, said in a tweet, “Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they’ll 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.”
On Monday, 10 Sri Lankan cricket players chose to opt-out of the upcoming tour to Pakistan citing security concerns.
Sri Lanka is set to visit Pakistan after nearly two years to play three ODIs and three T20I matches from September 27 to October 19. The players who opted out of the series are — Lasith Malinga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne.
The development marks several earlier instances when major international cricket teams have refused to tour Pakistan since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore.
In 2009, the Sri Lankan team were on their way to Gaddafi Stadium during the Test match with Pakistan when terrorists believed to be from Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) fired indiscriminately upon the bus. That barbaric attack left eight people dead and injured seven Sri Lankan players and staff.
Since then, international cricket has eluded Pakistan with no high-profile team visiting the country for a full-length tour. However, Sri Lanka returned to Pakistan in October 2017 for a lone T20 match in Lahore, the place where the attack took place eight years ago.
Though, the security situation in Pakistan is far from being completely normal even after the 2009 attack.