Pettiness not to curtail spirit of sports, says Sangakkara

Hyderabad, April 1 (IANS) With Sri Lankan players barred from playing Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in Chennai, Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kumar Sangakkara said the spirit of sports is not going to be curtailed by such pettiness.

The Sri Lankan batsman admitted that politics over the issue has affected the Lankan players by restricting their presence.

"The build-up for the sixth edition of IPL has been very different and difficult for Sri Lankan players. But at the end of the day, the Sri Lankan players are here to play in the IPL. The sport transcends a lot of pettiness that we see today," he told reporters here Monday.

Altogether 13 Sri Lankan players are taking part in the sixth edition of the IPL starting April 3.

They were withdrawn from matches to be played in Chennai after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa refused to host them in view of the prevailing anti-Sinhalese sentiments in the state.

"We were ready to play in every part of India but I don't think the spirit of sports is ever going to be curtailed by such pettiness. The cricket board has made absolutely clear that no Sri Lankan player will be in Chennai. But India is much more than Chennai and Tamil Nadu. I think rest of India welcomes us. We are here to play cricket representing Sri Lanka and also our franchises," Sangakkara said.

When asked about former captain Arjuna Ranatunga's call to Sri Lankan players to boycott the IPL, Sangakkara said it was a divisive issue back home as well.

He said he does not believe that it was a nation versus nation issue. "It is only a state and I don't think it is even the entire state. Foreign policy is not dictated by a state. If it was a nation versus nation issue, Sri Lankan players would not have been here," he added.

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