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Sad day for cricket

Former Sri Lankan captain Arjun Ranatunga (left) with Sri Lankan players Mahela Jayawardena and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Former Sri Lankan captain Arjun Ranatunga (left) with Sri Lankan players Mahela Jayawardena and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Former Sri Lankan captain Arjun Ranatunga today slammed the Indian Premier League Governing Council’s decision to withdraw Sri Lankan cricketers from Chennai matches of the tournament and asked the players to opt out of the entire high-profile event beginning April 3.

“….as far as cricketers are concerned I think if they can’t play in South India (Chennai) they should not play in other parts either. I personally feel if players are not welcomed in one part of India they should not be part of any IPL,” Ranatunga said.

“The excuse that the South Indian politician gave was war crimes. And I am sure the players should take that into consideration and think of the country and pull out from the entire Indian Premier League,” he said.

Ranatunga termed the decision a political gimmick and said that the IPL governing council should have taken all the matches away from Chennai.

“I think what IPL should have done was pulled out all the matches from South India if they are so keen on Sri Lankan players participation. But it’s all political gimmick,” he said.

Yesterday, bowing to intense political pressure, the IPL governing council, withdrew top Sri Lankan players from the Chennai matches of the high-profile IPL after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa refused to host them in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese sentiments in the state.

Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan expressed disappointment at the IPL governing council’s move to disallow players from his country to play matches in Chennai.

“It’s a sad (day) for cricket as we are not allowed to play in a certain part of India. It is a government decision, if they cannot provide security for us, we have to be cautious,” said Muralitharan, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.

“I have spoken to Royal Challengers, they do not have any problems. I can play the non-Chennai games,” he added. Himself a Sri Lankan Tamil, Muralitharan said he had never faced problems in the island nation.

“I played for 20 years in the Lankan team, I did not have any problems as a Tamil. The government and the cricket board always supported me throughout my career even when I went through a lot of problems.”

“Earlier, there was a time of war between the Tamils and Lankans but now people are living in peace in my country. So the concerned authorities in India must come and see how we are living in Sri Lanka and forget what happened in the past. We don’t want another war-like situation now.” (AP)††

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