Sri Lankan players to stay away from Chennai

J Jayalalithaa

No Sri Lankan cricketer, or even official, will take field at the M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai during the Indian Premier League's (IPL) Season 6 that starts from April 3. The IPL governing council took this decision at its unscheduled teleconference on Tuesday, after the Tamil Nadu government expressed its reservations about hosting those from the island nation.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this morning, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said: "In view of the popular antipathy and anger against the actions of the government of Sri Lanka, the (state) government is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu."

In the evening, IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla informed that the 10 matches in Chennai will not see teams at their full strength. "The security of all involved in the IPL, whether players, spectators or those working in the stadium, is of paramount importance to the BCCI. Lankan players will not participate in Chennai and we will advise the franchises accordingly," said Shukla.

Of the 13 Lankans player in IPL 6, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara are leading sides while players like Lasith Malinga, Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews are high-value proven T20 performers.

The decision comes as a blow to IPL debutant team, Sunrisers Hyderabad, that is owned by Jaya's main political rival DMK president M Karunanidhi's grandnephew, Kalanithi Maran of Sun Group. Sunrisers is captained by Sangakkara while Thisara Perera is their star all-rounder.

Jaya's letter to the PM is said to be in sync with the strong anti-Lanka sentiment in the state at present. Recently, the Sri Lankan government had also issued an advisory asking its citizens to avoid travelling to Tamil Nadu.

This isn't the first case of politics spilling over to the sporting arena. The AIADMK government had refused to allow a football team of the Royal College of Colombo to train in Chennai last September. More recently, the 20th Asian athletics meet in Chennai ran into rough weather as the Lankans were expected to be among the participants.

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