Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) efforts to bring back Cricket back to Pakistan took a hit after top Sri Lankan players refused to travel to Pakistan for the upcoming tour. Initially, two test matches were scheduled, however, the limited-over series was brought forward. The idea behind the move was to showcase the state of security in the country with T20Is and ODIs and push for the test tour later in the year.
However, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal, and Dimuth Karunaratne have refused to travel despite Sri Lankan Cricket Boards (SLC) assurances. The Board held a meeting with the players to apprise them about the security arrangement made for the tour. A former Sri Lankan Air Force Commander had assured the players that the arrangements were up to the required standard. However, the players remained unconvinced.
The players were assured that this decision will not impact the future selection and the board respects their decision. In 2017, a weakened Sri Lankan team had traveled to Pakistan to play a solitary T20 match under the captaincy of Thisara Perera. The all-rounder was also part of the World 11 that played three T20s in Lahore. However, he has opted to play Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Isuru Udana had also signed for CPL, but he will travel with the Sri Lankan team for the upcoming tour.
In 2009, a Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore and some players were injured in the attack. Suranga Lakmal is the sole active Sri Lankan cricketer from that squad. However, the players are still wary about the conditions in Pakistan.
Earlier in the year, Pakistan U19 team toured Sri Lanka a month after the deadly Easter attacks in Sri Lanka. They were the 1st team to visit the Island after the attack and international Cricket has resumed in the country.
It will be interesting to see if a successful tour can have a positive impact on these ten players. However, the hope of hosting a test series in Pakistan appear slim as the SLC would be reluctant to send an inexperienced test side and potentially lose Test Championship points.
The white ball leg of the series will be played in Lahore and Karachi from September 27 to October 9th.