Sri Lanka news January 3, 2012

SLC eager to host IPL matches

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has approached the BCCI about the possibility of hosting IPL matches, the new SLC president, Upali Dharmadasa, has said. The idea has been proposed as a way for SLC to raise additional revenue because the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) failed to get off the ground last year, after the BCCI's refusal to allow Indian players to take part in the tournament.

It is for the same reason - an increase in revenue - that India's tour of Sri Lanka in July 2012 will comprise three one-dayers and three Twenty20 games, and no Tests as had been earlier planned. SLC is presently facing a severe shortage of funds following the construction of new stadiums in Pallekele and Hambantota and the renovation of the Premadasa Stadium for the 2011 World Cup.

"I feel it [a T20 league] is a needed thing," Dharmadasa told ESPNcricinfo. "But I don't think it is the right time with India having the IPL. With most of our players going and playing there and the countries being so close, I would request the Indian board, and we have already started talking, why not play a couple of matches in Sri Lanka?"

Dharmadasa pointed out that the flight from Bangalore to Colombo was only an hour long and the flight from Mumbai was only slightly longer than a Mumbai to Chennai flight. "Make it a venture," he said. "On the whole, they [the BCCI] will help Sri Lanka as a tourist attraction and see that Sri Lanka Cricket comes up."

India were supposed to play a full tour - three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20 game - in Sri Lanka but it was cut down to just three Tests in the new Futures Tour Programme. Dharmadasa then met with BCCI president N Srinivasan, after being appointed interim SLC president earlier this year, and convinced him that holding limited-overs games would be more beneficial financially to Sri Lanka.

"I am talking to the TV rights owners, Ten Sports," Dharmadasa said. "I am hopeful of raising almost US$12.5 million." He also said he was trying to arrange a fourth ODI as well. "From a revenue point of view, I would love India to tour Sri Lanka three times a year," Dharmadasa said. "Unfortunately, it is not possible. But whenever possible [we would like them to tour]."

The SLPL, in July 2011, had been postponed to August 2012, after facing a series of problems, including the unexpected withdrawal of Indian players from the tournament. The BCCI had withheld permission for its players to participate on the grounds that Somerset Entertainment Ventures, which owned the commercial rights, would be handling the contracts for international players and that could lead to complications should disputes arise over payments. There were also suggestions that former IPL chairman Lalit Modi had a hand in the event, but SLC and Somerset repeatedly denied those allegations, as did Modi.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo