The Sri Lankan cricket team, which is all set to play three One Day Internationals (ODI) and three Twenty-20 Internationals (T20I) in Pakistan from September 27 to October 9, saw 10 of the first team player pulling out their name from the tour stating security reasons.
Senior players like Lasith Malinga, ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne and veteran all-rounder Angelo Mathews are among the 10 players who decided to stay away from the tour of Pakistan. The list of the 10 players was released after a meeting between the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and the national team players.
“Sri Lanka Cricket today held a meeting with players, who were chosen as part of a preliminary squad to select the team, which will be touring Pakistan to play 03 ODIs and 03 T20i matches, starting from 27th September to 09th October, 2019,” read the official press release which has the names of the 10 players.
According to the release, former Sri Lanka Air Force Commander and Chief Security Advisor to SLC, Marshal Air Roshan Goonetileke, briefed the players about the security situations in Pakistan. The cricketers were also told about the security arrangements that have been done their keeping in mind their safety.
“The meeting was aimed at informing the players about the security arrangements, during the forthcoming tour and also to find out their ‘decision’ (either taking part or not), before selectors sit for the selection of squads for the ODI and T20i series,” read the official statement of SLC. It was also learnt that the players were given full freedom to decide whether or not they wanted to tour Pakistan.
After the meeting, 10 players, namely Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne opted out their names from the upcoming tour.
International cricket in Pakistan had been folklore ever since a touring Sri Lankan side was subjected to the terror attack in 2009. Six of the touring cricketers were injured by bullets in the attack that had taken place near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Pakistan faced the heat of the global cricket community as every major cricket playing nation refused to tour the country. The incident also made sure that Pakistan lost their tag of co-host for the 2011 World Cup.
However, with repeated and desperate efforts of Pakistani officials at the International Cricket Council, the ice broke to some extent after Kenya became the first team to visit Pakistan after the terror attack. The African nation played five 50-overs match against Pakistan A. The series acted as a gateway for the return of international cricket to Pakistan as Zimbabwe visited the country next year to take part in two T20Is and three ODIs in Lahore.
The Pakistan Super League, which is conducted in UAE, decided to hold the final of 2017 edition in Lahore. With that, Pakistan got a glimpse of a plethora of major international stars in their backyard. Later in the same year, a World XI led by Faf du Plessis visited the country to play three T20Is. The team had the likes of Hashim Amla, David Miller and George Bailey.
But the major breakthrough in bringing back international cricket to Pakistan happened in September 2017 when Sri Lanka agreed to play a T20I in Lahore. As a continuation of their tour to UAE, the Lankans visited Pakistan after eight years. But even then the team had seen the major players pulling out themselves for the match ar the Gaddafi Stadium.