The IPL 2013 matches in Chennai will not feature any Sri Lankan cricketers or match officials, the league's governing council said after a meeting on Tuesday. It said the decision was taken keeping in mind security concerns in Chennai.
"The security of all involved in the IPL, whether players, spectators or those working in the stadiums, is of paramount importance to the BCCI," the statement said. "The governing council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the IPL 2013 league matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly."
The decision followed growing political tensions, stemming from the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka and capped by a letter written on Tuesday by the Tamil Nadu state government to the prime minister asking for a ban on Sri Lankan involvement in the Chennai leg of the IPL.
The letter, written by the chief minister J Jayalalitha, was unequivocal in its stand. "In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people."
Earlier this month the DMK, the main opposition party in Tamil Nadu and a key ally of the federal government, pulled out of the ruling coalition at the centre asking for sterner measures to redress alleged atrocities towards Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said it was monitoring the developments in India closely and was waiting for a travel advisory from the Sri Lankan government. "If there is a secondary threat to a player in a particular area then we will wait for the government's advice," Nishantha Ranatunga, the SLC secretary, told ESPNcricinfo. "We have written to Ministry of Foreign Affairs through our Minister of Sport to get feedback on our players' safety."
The "ban" will affect Chennai Super Kings, who play all their eight home matches in Chennai; however, their Sri Lankan contingent consists of only two fringe players, Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya. Franchises that will be significantly hit, at least for the lone game they play in Chennai in the league phase, include Mumbai Indians (Lasith Malinga), Delhi Daredevils (Mahela Jayawardene), Sunrisers Hyderabad (Kumar Sangakkara) and Pune Warriors (Angelo Mathews). Chennai also hosts some of the knockout matches, where these players would be crucial if their teams make it that far.
"We were first told by the IPL authorities about the problem in Tamil Nadu around a fortnight ago," a franchise official said. "And after due consultations, almost all the franchises are happy losing one or two of their players for one game rather than the whole tournament."
It is not yet clear whether Super Kings will decide to withdraw their Sri Lankan players for the season but if so, the players will be compensated with their contract fees for the entire season.
Sri Lankan players in IPL:
Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya (Chennai Super Kings)
Mahela Jayawardene and Jeevan Mendis (Delhi Daredevils)
Sachithra Senanayake (Kolkata Knight Riders)
Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians)
Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews (Pune Warriors)
Kushal Janith Perera (Rajasthan Royals)
Muttiah Muralitharan and Tillakaratne Dilshan (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera (Sunrisers Hyderabad)