IPL Controversies- Part 16: No Sri Lankan Cricketers in Chennai During IPL 2013

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In 2013, just ahead of the Indian Premier League, a conflict between the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils seemed imminent. The Students Federation for Freedom of Tamil Eelam ran a series of protests in Tamil Nadu. Questions were raised over the matches scheduled in the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai. IPL Controversies- Part 15: Spot-Fixing Allegations in 2012.

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J Jayalalithaa, then Chief Minister of the state, wrote to Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh about her concern: “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.”

The IPL Committee decreed that no Sri Lankan cricketers would feature in the matches at the Chepauk, home ground of the Chennai Super Kings. This meant Chennai losing their Sri Lankan players, Nuwan Kulasekara and Akila Dananjaya, for all eight league matches at home. However, neither was a guaranteed starter in any of the matches. IPL Controversies- Part 14: Luke Pomersbach Arrested for Molestation and Assault.

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While the other sides theoretically did not suffer as much, all of them had at least one Sri Lankan cricketer: Mahela Jayawardene and Jeevan Mendis (Delhi Daredevils), Sachithra Senanayake (Kolkata Knight Riders), Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians), Ajantha Mendis and Angelo Mathews (Pune Warriors), Kusal Perera (Rajasthan Royals), Muttiah Muralitharan and Tillakaratne Dilshan (Royal Challengers Bangalore), and Kumar Sangakkara and Thisara Perera (Sunrisers Hyderabad).

As is evident, most of these cricketers were more crucial to their respective teams than Kulasekara or Dananjaya were for Chennai. The other franchises protested, but eventually the league matches were played in Chepauk. The Qualifier 2 and Eliminator, originally scheduled for Chennai, were eventually shifted to Delhi.

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