Ten Sri Lankan players, including T20 skipper Lasith Malinga and former captains Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera, have pulled out of an upcoming tour of Pakistan citing security concerns.Following a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test match in Lahore in March 2009, a majority of international teams have refused to tour the South Asian country.
The Sri Lanka Cricket board said in a statement that players in a preliminary squad were briefed on security arrangements for the six-match limited over series, and given the freedom to decide if they wanted to travel. Following the briefing, ten players “chose to stay away” from the series of three One-Day Internationals and three T20 games, scheduled to begin on September 27 in Karachi, it said.
The other seven who opted out were Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal and Dimuth Karunaratne. The tour was seen as another step towards reviving international cricket in Pakistan after years of isolation.
Batsman Danushka Gunathilaka said he believed security would be adequate. “From what they told us, I think there will be very tight security,” Gunathilaka said. The Sri Lankans returned to Pakistan for a Twenty20 international in Lahore in October 2017 when Perera led the team. This time, he has decided to stay away.
Sri Lanka are also to play two Test matches against Pakistan, but the dates and the venue are yet to be announced. Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Harin Fernando has rejected playing the longer versions of the game in Pakistan and suggested the Tests be played in the United Arab Emirates, where Pakistan have played many of their home series.