Concerns over SL players' IPL 2013 stint
The participation of Sri Lanka players in the 2013 IPL, which begins on April 3, has been thrown into some doubt following political tensions in India over the treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Players' Association has raised strong concerns about the safety of Sri Lanka cricketers who will play in Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, and officials from a couple of franchises admitted that the IPL has "verbally communicated" the same concerns to them.
The political fallout of the issue has led to the DMK, a Tamil Nadu-based party, pulling its ministers out of the federal coalition government in New Delhi and threatening its future. There have been at least two reported attacks on Sri Lankan tourists in Tamil Nadu in the past few days and Sri Lanka's foreign ministry has asked its nationals visiting Tamil Nadu to exercise caution. The fear is that the controversy will snowball and put players at risk.
Thirteen Sri Lanka players are contracted to IPL teams in 2013, with fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekara and offspinner Akila Dananjaya part of the Chennai Super Kings franchise. Ten matches will be played in Chennai.
In Sri Lanka, the players' association said it was currently consulting with its parent organisation, the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, to determine a course of action that will ensure cricketers' safety. "We have sent a letter to FICA outlining the situation, which they are not aware of at the moment," SLPA general secretary Ken de Alwis said. "They will talk to their security consultants and get back to us about what needs to be in place." Alwis said, however, that the cricketers who are set to play in the tournament have expressed confidence in existing security arrangements. "The players aren't worried at all. In fact, I spoke to a few of them and they said, 'No, security will be tight, and we're not too concerned right now.'" In India, where the issue was given a dramatic twist on Tuesday with the DMK's withdrawal from the government, franchise officials now say the IPL is concerned at events. "They [IPL] have told us that the federal government might impose certain restrictions with regard to Sri Lankan nationals travelling to Chennai. If that happens, [we have been asked to] be prepared to play those games without the Lankan players," a franchise official said on condition of anonymity.
Most of the franchises contacted by ESPNcricinfo said they were not really concerned about the league stage, where they could ask teams not to field their Sri Lankan players for the Chennai matches. The "real concern" for them is the Eliminator, scheduled to be played at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on May 22. "If the situation doesn't improve by then and either or both teams have to do without one or two key players, the match could be seriously affected," another franchise official said.
While for seven teams, it will mean being without the services of one or two players for a game, the biggest impact will be for the Chennai Super Kings, the host team, who might have to do without Kulasekara and Dananjaya for all eight home games.
The first IPL game in Chennai will be between the hosts and Mumbai Indians, for whom Lasith Malinga is a key player, on April 6.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo, Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent and Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo