Hyderabad: Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kumar Sangakkara feels that keeping the Sri Lankan players out of the Chennai matches in the IPL-VI will not spoil the spirit of the game.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa has refused to host the Lankan players in Chennai in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese sentiments in the state. Bowing to political pressure, the IPL governing council last week barred the Sri Lanka players from playing in Chennai.
“Politics, in this case, has affected and restricted our presence, our belief to play in every part of India. But I don’t think sports and the spirit of cricket is ever going to be curtailed by such prejudices,” he said on the sidelines of an event here.
“The build-up has been different and difficult for the Sri Lankan players. But, at the end of the day, we are here to play in IPL. The Sri Lankan Cricket Board has made it clear that no Lankan players will be (playing) in Chennai,” Sangakkara said.
“India is much more than Chennai and Tamil Nadu and I think the rest of India doesn’t have any bad feeling. We are here to play cricket, representing Sri Lanka and also on behalf of our franchisees,” he added.
Asked for his reaction to former captain Arjuna Ranatunga’s comment asking the Sri Lankans to opt out of the tournament, Sangakkara said: “It’s been a divisive issue back home as well… But this is not a nation-vs-nation issue. It’s only a state... And I don’t think it is the entire state (Tamil Nadu). So, we’ve got to put it in the right perspective. Had it been a nation-vs-nation issue, then the Sri Lankan players would not have been here.”
Interestingly, an agency report from Colombo quoted Sri Lanka sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage as saying that Sri Lanka Cricket is grateful to the BCCI for their help “in times of need”.
“We have to take into account our good relations with the BCCI and their assistance given to Sri Lanka at times of need in the past,” the minister said.
Coming to cricket proper, Sangakkara said that the presence of Dale Steyn and Ishant Sharma would bolster the Sunrisers’ attack.
“We missed Ishant last year... I think having him and Dale Steyn spearheading our new-ball attack is really going to be crucial,” Sangakkara said.
“Ishant has recently shown that even on the flat tracks in India, against a quality side like Australia, he can be effective,” he said.
Speaking about Steyn, Sangakkara said that the South African has been performing consistently over the last four years.
He also believes both Steyn and Sharma are capable of getting breakthroughs at any stage of a match. “We just need that kind of presence at the top of our bowling attack…
“We are looking forward to really making an impact with them (Steyn and Ishant), be it with the new ball, in the middle or at the death... whatever situation it may be.
“And I have the confidence that they will deliver in every single game,” Sangakkara said. (PTI)