While it’s being suggested that franchises are evidently disappointed by the IPL governing council’s decision to exclude Sri Lankan cricketers from matches in Chennai, the teams aren’t too keen to speak on the matter, at least on record.
This much, however, is clear: teams with a strong Sri Lankan flavour are bound to be considerably disadvantaged in their ‘away’ game against Chennai Super Kings (CSK). As many as three sides are led by a Lankan. In contrast, CSK may not feel the pinch as Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya are unlikely to play central roles.
For teams like Delhi Daredevils, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Pune Warriors India, the damage may be greater. Having already lost the services of Kevin Pietersen and Jesse Ryder, Daredevils will be hampered further by the absence of its leader Mahela Jayawardene in Chennai. Warriors, for its part, will be forced to field a team minus captain Angelo Mathews and Ajantha Mendis.
The team officials have been careful enough to steer clear of controversy. RCB coach Ray Jennings, whose team will have to make do without Tillakaratne Dilshan and Muttiah Muralitharan, dead-batted a query on the issue.
“I am not really worried about that. I have got enough on my plate to organise and not worry about the political turmoil. We will concentrate on what lies ahead for us in the IPL,” he said.
Sunrisers’ coach Tom Moody still hoped for a rosier outcome. “We are playing them much later in the tournament; so we are hoping that the officials will sort out the issue by then,” he said.
What if the side, owned by the Chennai-headquartered Sun Group, is forced to leave out skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera for the entire tournament?
“If that happens, it’s bound to have an impact on the team as they are key players for us. We hope that they will be available for all the matches,” a Sunrisers official said on condition of anonymity.
Another franchise official, who didn’t wish to be named, was philosophical about the situation. “It’s disappointing, but what can we do about it? Thankfully, it’s just one game. We would have to treat it as a last-minute injury situation.”
Playing it safe
Kolkata Knight Riders’ coach Trevor Bayliss played it safe as well when asked about not including Sachithra Senanayake, who was contracted for $625,000, in Chennai. “He won’t play if he can’t play. We will have to follow the guidelines,” he said.
It’s understood that there’s some consternation about the matches not being moved out of Chennai given the precedent that was established in 2010.
Back then, the semifinals were shifted from Bangalore following two low-intensity blasts, while all the matches scheduled to be played in Hyderabad were moved out because of the Telangana agitation.
Also, the decision to bar Sri Lankan players in the Tamil Nadu capital was reportedly made without consulting other stakeholders — something that has irked the franchises.
The bigger conundrum for the teams will be during the Qualifier and Eliminator which are scheduled to be played in Chennai. Selecting a side that’s less than full-strength is the last thing they would want to do.