Upul Tharanga will miss the T20I series vs Pakistan    Getty Images
Upul Tharanga will miss the T20I series vs Pakistan Getty Images

It is difficult to erase sordid memories of terrorist attacks. You can hardly blame a Sri Lankan cricketer to return to play in Pakistan after the horrors of 2009. After winning the Test series 2-0 and getting handed a sorry 0-5 defeat in the ODIs against Pakistan, Sri Lanka will play a 3-T20I series. The last match of the tour will be played at Lahore, marking the return of a Sri Lankan side to Pakistan since the 2009 attacks. Unfortunately, they will be without the likes of Upul Tharanga, Lasith Malinga and Dinesh Chandimal amongst others.

Tharanga had deemed himself unavailable for the third and final T20I to be played at Lahore, as have six of his teammates. Sri Lanka Cricket have announced a 15-member squad for the T20I series against Pakistan, led by Thisara Perera. The first T20I will be played on October 26 at Abu Dhabi.

On opting out: As quoted by Cricbuzz, Tharanga confessed: It was an individual decision. We chatted to 40 to 45 players and we didn’t force anyone to go or not to go. Once the board informed us that we are playing in Lahore, we made a request to change the venue. SLC told us that they are going ahead with the game. We had a chat and we decided to give the freedom to the players to decide.

On memories of 2009: Personally why I opted not to go was, in 2009, I was in the team although I wasn’t present in Lahore when the shooting happened. Just before that I was part of the ODI side that went and played in Pakistan. The shooting happened a few weeks later. Back of my mind, the incident troubles me and I am not mentally ready to go to Pakistan at the moment. However, if there’s an opportunity in the future, I will certainly consider.

On SLC s response: SLC chatted to us on the issue. But no pressure was put on us. They understood the mental status of the players.