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Sri Lanka tour of Pakistan hits IPL roadblock

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sri Lanka's proposed series of one-day internationals against Pakistan next month is in jeopardy due to a clash of dates with the cash-rich Indian Premier League.

Sri Lanka had offered to play in the short series following a pull-out by Australia from a full tour of Pakistan in March-April due to security concerns. But the dates of the series -- from April 23 to May 5 -- are in direct clash with the inaugural Twenty20 league, to be played over 44 days at various venues in India from April 18 to June 1.

The lure of playing in the cash-rich IPL ahead of the Pakistan series could prompt top Sri Lankan players to shun their national colours, media reports said Sunday.

Captain Mahela Jayawardene, key batsman Kumar Sangakkara and spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan are among a host of Sri Lankan players contracted to play in the IPL.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), the governing body for the sport here, would be helpless to prevent the players from playing in the league as they are currently bound only by the West Indies tour contract, a news publication reported.

It said the players, currently in the West Indies to play two Tests and three one-day internationals, had deliberated at length over the clash.

"It is reliably learnt that there was a meeting amongst the Lankan cricketers on Friday at Guyana on the next course of action they were to take if they don't get the required permission to play in the IPL,"
the daily said.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has said that it was willing to offer SLC 800,000 dollars for the series of five one-day internationals, slated to be held from April 23 to May 5, but only if they send their full team.

The clash of dates has apparently also upset the Indian Cricket Board with a top official reported to have expressed his displeasure over the Pakistan tour to his counterpart in Sri Lanka over telephone.

SLC chief Arjuna Ranatunga is banking on the Indian tour in July-August to pull the board out of financial difficulties. A possible Indian decision to cancel the tour would cost Sri Lanka more than a million dollars.

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