New Delhi: Sri Lanka Minister Harin Fernando has rejected claims made by Pakistan Minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry that India forced the players of the island nation to opt-out of their upcoming tour against the Men in Green.
Fernando, who is Sri Lanka's Sports Minister, said that 10 players have opted out of the tour "purely" based on the 2009 incident when their team bus was attacked by terrorists which left eight people dead and several others injured.
"No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan. Some decided not to play purely based on the 2009 incident. Respecting their decision we picked players who were willing to travel. We have a full-strength team & we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan," he tweeted on Tuesday night.
Sri Lanka never toured Pakistan following the attack. This was set to be it's first since.
Sri Lanka's top players, including T20I skipper Lasith Malinga, and former captains Angelo Mathews besides Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Perera and Niroshan Dickwella, have opted out of the tour starting September 27 to Pakistan, following a security briefing with the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board.
After this, Chaudhry, who is Pakistan's Science and Technology Minister, said India threatened the players from Sri Lanka that if they travel to Pakistan, they would lose their IPL contracts.
"Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they will be ousted from IPL if they don't refuse Pak visit, this is a really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities," Chaudhry tweeted on Tuesday.
Sri Lanka is slated to play three ODIs in Karachi on September 27, 29 and October 3, and as many T20Is in Lahore on October 5, 7 and 9 during the tour, before returning in December for the Test series that will be a part of the World Test Championship.