Sri Lanka Cricket on Wednesday said it received a warning from the Prime Minister’s office of a “terrorist threat” targeting the Sri Lankan cricket team during its upcoming Pakistan tour.
Following the message, Sri Lanka Cricket has sought the government’s assistance to ‘reassess’ the security situation in Pakistan, ahead of the national team’s scheduled tour from September 27 to October 9.
“The decision was taken following a warning the SLC received from the Prime Minister’s Office, sent via the Ministry of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement on Wednesday evening. The “warning”, according to the statement, notes that the Prime Minister’s office had received “reliable information of a possible terrorist threat on the Sri Lankan team, while touring Pakistan.”
The announcement came hours after Sri Lanka Cricket announced depleted squads for the ODI and T-20 matches, after 10 top players refused to travel to Pakistan, citing security concerns.
The senior players deciding to opt out on security grounds sparked a controversy with a Pakistani Minister on Tuesday claiming that the cricketers’ decision had been influenced by India.
“Informed sports commentators told me that India threatened SL players that they’ll be ousted from IPL if they don’t refuse Pak. visit, this is really cheap tactic, jingoism from sports to space is something we must condemn, really cheap on the part of Indian sports authorities,” Pakistani Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhry said in a tweet on Tuesday.
Countering the claim, Sri Lanka’s Sport Minister Harin Fernando tweeted late on Tuesday that there was: “No truth to reports that India influenced Sri Lankan players not to play in Pakistan. Some decided not to play purely based on the 2009 incident.” He was referring to the terrorist attack on a bus transporting Sri Lanka’s national players in Lahore a decade ago.
“Respecting their decision we picked players who were willing to travel. We have a full strength team & we hope to beat Pakistan in Pakistan,” the Minister said.
Though the squad was announced earlier on Wednesday, SLC said it had been advised to take “extreme care”, and “reassess the situation” and has sought the government’s help in this regard.