It was a decade ago that the Sri Lankan national cricket team came under a terror attack during their tour to Pakistan. The situation was so grave that the visiting cricketers had to be airlifted from the ground in Lahore to safety. Pakistan found itself sidelined as a host to international games and barring a few short series on and off, no major cricketing fixture has taken place on its soil in the last 10 years.
The team has played all its major bilateral series in the United Arab Emirates during this period. However, Sri Lanka are now set to tour Pakistan for T20I and ODI series in September-October. The tour features three T20Is and as many ODIs. The two countries will also play a two-match Test series as part of the World Test Championship but that will take place in the UAE in December.
But it seems not all Lankan players are keen to tour Pakistan. Wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella and all-rounder Thisara Perera have sought approval to take part in the Caribbean Premier League starting September 4. Though they both are among the 24 probables that the selectors have chosen for the forthcoming Pakistan series.
According to a report in bdcrictime.com, Dickwella and Perera, along with some other Lankan players, are not “too keen” to go to Pakistan. Perera may get the permission to play in the CPL but on the condition that he would return if sought by his national team. Perera was the captain of the Sri Lankan side that had played in Pakistan last time – in 2017.
Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister could look to convince the players
Sri Lanka Cricket officials are set to sit with the players and convince them about the upcoming tour of Pakistan. Even the country’s sports minister, Harin Fernando, could feature in the talks. A number of international players like Darren Sammy and AB de Villiers have spoken about playing in Pakistan before, especially after their stint in the Pakistan Super League. But it seems a broad consensus is yet to build up over the idea of playing in Pakistan without any security concern.
Sri Lanka’s current coaching staff, including Rumesh Ratnayeke, is willing to travel to Pakistan. And if some former Pakistan coaching staff members land up with the Sri Lankan team, the task could become a tad easier for the administrators to convince the players.
However, Panish Shetty, an Indian computer analyst associated with the islanders might find it difficult to get a visa to Pakistan and that would see the Lankan side opting for a local man for the tour.
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