New Delhi, Mar. 26 (ANI): In the wake of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa firmly stating that no Sri Lankan cricketer will be allowed to play Indian Premier League matches in Chennai, the chairman of the IPL Governing Council, Rajeev Shukla, has said the safety of the Sri Lankan cricketers is paramount.
"Our priority is to provide safety and security to the Sri Lankan players. That's our commitment to the Sri Lankan (Cricket) Board ands that's paramount for us. So, we have to keep in mind the safety of Sri Lankan players, at the same time we have to take care of the agitation which is already going on in Chennai. So, keeping both the things in mind we have taken this decision," he said.
Shukla, however, said IPL matches in Chennai will take place as scheduled. He said talks are still on with the franchisees if they can do away with the Sri Lankan players for one match till the matter is resolved.
Shukla said Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had written a letter to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh requesting him to speak to the BCCI for not putting Sri Lankan players in the IPL matches in Chennai.
"After that, we took stock of the situation. BCCI President and other members of the governing council deliberated upon the matter and they decided that we will go ahead with the schedule for the Chennai matches. We are not going to take away the matches from Chennai," Shukla told the media here.
"We are going ahead and at the same time we would speak to the franchisees and we have already started talking to the franchisees that for one match in Chennai they should do away with the Sri Lankan players," he added.
To a poser on the contents of Jayalalithaa's letter to the Prime Minister, Shukla said: "The Prime Minister's Office has not intimated us as yet, but in due course they will definitely inform us. But we are aware about the contents of the letter from media."
Jayalalithaa has in her letter written to the Prime Minister, categorically stated that the 13 Sri Lankan cricketers in the IPL will not be allowed to play matches held in Chennai. She has said she will permit IPL matches to be held in her state only if the organisers give her an undertaking that no Sri Lankan will be involved.
Jayalalithaa has said that with emotions in her state running high over the Sri Lanka issue, the Indian cricket board should be advised that Lankan players, umpires and other officials must not visit Tamil Nadu.
"In such a hostile and tense environment, we apprehend that the participation of Sri Lankan players in the IPL tournament, with many games to be played in Chennai, will aggravate an already surcharged atmosphere and further offend the sentiments of the people," she said in her letter.
The sixth edition of the cash-rich IPL tournament is scheduled to be held from April 3 and will be played in different locations in the country over 45 days.
Ten matches are to be played in Chennai, which also has a home team in the Chennai Super Kings, with two Sri Lankan players in it. Altogether 13 Sri Lankan players, two of whom are captains of their respective teams, are taking part in the sixth edition of the IPL tournament. (ANI)