Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi blamed the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises for putting pressure on top Sri Lanka cricketers for not touring Pakistan. Afridi reportedly stated that he had a chat with a few Sri Lankan players, who told him that they don't want to tour Pakistan and even take part in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) but cannot do it because of the pressure from IPL franchises.
Top 10 Sri Lanka cricketers including ODI and T20I captain Lasith Malinga and Dimuth Karunaraten have decided to pull out from Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan citing security reasons. The other eight cricketers are Thisara Perera, Angelo Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Akila Dananjaya, Suranga Lakmal, and Dinesh Chandimal.
"Sri Lankan players are under pressure from IPL franchises. I spoke to SL players last time when there was talk of them coming to Pakistan & playing in PSL. They said they wanted to come, but IPL guys say if you go to Pakistan we won't give you a contract," Afridi was quoted as saying by a senior Pakistani journalist.
Afridi's comments come as a surprise as only Lasith Malinga among the 10 Sri Lankan cricketers who have opted out from Pakistan tour has an IPL contract. Malinga is part of the Mumbai Indians squad. Akil Dananjaya was bought by Mumbai Indians in 2018 but was released this year.
"Pakistan's always supported SL, it never happened that we had a tour of SL & our players rested. SL's board should put pressure on their contracted players to go to Pakistan. SL players who'll come will always be remembered in Pakistan's history," Afridi added.
Hours after Afridi's comments, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board confirmed that their side will tour Pakistan after the Pakistan government pledged the same level of security to their players as is provided to visiting heads of state.
Sri Lanka are scheduled to play three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches in Pakistan between Sept. 27 and Oct. 9.
"(The) tour of Pakistan will go ahead as planned, following assurances given by the government of Pakistan that it will provide maximum security arrangements for the team during their entire duration of stay in Pakistan," SLC said.
Pakistan are looking to play their first test at home in December since a 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore left six security personnel and two civilians dead and six players injured.
Sri Lanka have already named Lahiru Thirimanne and Dasun Shanaka as ODI and T20 captains for the tour in place of Dimuth Karunaratne and Lasith Malinga.