Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan is disappointed at the IPL governing council’s move to disallow players from his country to play matches in Chennai, a decision taken in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese sentiments in the state.
Bowing to intense political pressure, top Sri Lankan players were yesterday withdrawn from the Chennai matches of the high-profile IPL after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa refused to host them due to the growing political tensions in the state resulting from the treatment of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka.
“It’s a sad (day) for cricket as we are not allowed to play in a certain part of India. It is a government decision, if they cannot provide security for us, we have to be cautious,” Muralitharan, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, told ‘NDTV.’
“I have spoken to Royal Challengers, they do not have any problems. I can play the non-Chennai games,” he added.
Himself a Sri Lankan Tamil, Muralitharan said he had never faced problems in the island nation.
“I played for 20 years in the Lankan team, I did not have any problems as a Tamil. The government and the cricket board always supported me throughout my career even when I went through a lot of problems. Earlier, there was a time of war between the Tamils and Lankans but now people are living in peace in my country. So the concerned authorities in India must come and see how we are living in Sri Lanka and forget what happened in the past. We don’t want another war-like situation now.”
The 40-year-old off-spinner, who retired from international cricket in 2011, said he was ready to play in Chennai.
“If they allow us to play, we will definitely play in Chennai. Chennai is like a second home for me as my wife Madhimalar is from there. It is a sentimental situation for me. We do not want to get into politics and we just want to play our cricket and entertain our fans.”
Muralitharan has played all five seasons of the IPL thus far, for Chennai Super Kings (2008-2010), Kochi Tuskers Kerala (2011) and Royal Challengers Bangalore last year.