The Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council on Tuesday decided not to field Sri Lankan players in the IPL matches to be held in Chennai due to security concerns in Tamil Nadu over the atrocities carried out against ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka during the war against Tamil Tigers that ended in May 2009.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said on Tuesday that the local administration's advice cannot be ignored, but he said the IPL matches will not be shifted out of Chennai and they will be played as scheduled.
"All the matches scheduled to be held in Chennai will go on as scheduled. As far as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is concerned, we have briefed them about the security measures taken by the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India)," Shukla was quoted as saying.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wrote a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making it clear that IPL matches would be permitted in the state only if there were no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff in these matches beginning April 3.
A few hours later, the IPL Governing Council met to discuss the issue and decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in IPL League matches in Chennai.
The Governing Council will advise the nine IPL franchises accordingly, putting an end to the intense speculation regarding the fate of the Sri Lankan players.
Altogether 13 Sri Lankan players, two of whom are captains of their respective teams, are taking part in the sixth edition of the league.
Chennai, the home for Chennai Super Kings, will stage 10 matches in all, including two eliminators, and will continue to remain a venue.
"The IPL Governing Council met this afternoon to discuss the issue. 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 Governing Council decided that Sri Lankan players will not participate in the Pepsi IPL 2013 League matches in Chennai and will advise the nine franchises accordingly", Shukla said in statement.
Shukla said that the Governing Council took the decision after the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister wrote to the Prime Minister stating that she would not permit the Sri Lankan players in Chennai.
"This is with reference to news reports last week that the government of Sri Lanka has issued a travel advisory that its citizens should exercise caution when travelling to Tamil Nadu", the statement said.
"Today, the Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has written to the Prime Minister of India stating that she will not permit the participation of Sri Lankan players or umpires in matches in Chennai during Pepsi IPL 2013", the statement added.
Shukla said the Governing Council had to take the local sentiments and the safety and security of Sri Lankan players into account before taking a final decision. "We had to take two things into account. We have to take the local sentiments into account and at same time the safety and security of the Sri Lankan players are paramount," he said.
"If the local administration has given something we have to listen to that as ultimately we need the help of the state authorities to hold the tournament like security arrangement. We can't ignore the advice from the local administration," he said.
In the letter to the Prime Minister, Jayalalithaa said BCCI may be advised by the Centre to prevail upon the IPL organisers not to allow Sri Lankan players, officials, umpires and support staff to take part in the tournament in the state.
"In view of the popular antipathy and anger in Tamil Nadu against the actions of the Government of Sri Lanka, the Government of Tamil Nadu is of the view that IPL matches involving Sri Lankan players, umpires and other officials should not be played in Tamil Nadu," she said.
"The Government of Tamil Nadu will permit IPL matches to be held in Tamil Nadu only if the organizers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches," she said.
Sri Lankan Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that the Lankan players will be told not to take part in Chennai matches if the BCCI or the Indian government were not able to provide security to them.
"We have written to the BCCI whether they can provide security to our players. We have also requested the foreign ministry to ask the Indian government whether they would provide security to our players. Only in case our players are provided security we will allow them to take part in the matches in Chennai," he said.
For the league stages, Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils and Hyderabad Sunrisers will have to bench key players like Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, respectively for their matches in Chennai.
Barring Kings XI Punjab, all the other franchises have at least one or more Sri Lankan players in their squad.