Sri Lanka players who have refused to tour Lahore for a few hours to play the third T20I against Pakistan would be overlooked completely for the three-match series. Even as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) tries to convince the players that a possible 24-hour trip to Pakistan would not be unsafe, the board has indicated to the selectors that only those who are willing to travel should play in the first two matches of the series in Abu Dhabi.
“The understanding is that we choose the same squad for the series, in fairness to the players who have put their hands up for the Lahore match,” said chief selector Graeme Labrooy as per ESPNCricinfo. It must be noted here that the decision to select a single squad for all three matches has come from the board and the sports ministry rather than the selectors themselves.
The players have expressed unwillingness to travel and play in Lahore despite assurances from the Pakistani authorities of complete security. Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by gunmen in 2009 which resulted in loss of cricket in the region and Pakistan moving their ‘home’ games to the UAE. The attack took place in Lahore as well. Since then, only Zimbabwe and most recently a World XI have toured Pakistan.
If Sri Lanka continue with their stance of one squad for the three-match series, the visitors would have a new captain with Upul Tharanga expressing unwillingness to tour Pakistan. While it would give fringe players a case for their selection in the team, it would rule out players with longer careers depending on their decision to tour or not.
“At the moment the board is talking to each of the players individually, so the selectors don’t know exactly who is available now,” Labrooy said. “But we should know that by Friday morning. Two SLC executive committee members have been contacting the players.”
At present, Sri Lanka trail Pakistan 0-3 in the five-match ODI series and their dismal run in the 50-over matches has stretched to ten straight defeats.