Sri Lankan fans shocked over shifting IPL out of India

By P. Karunakharan, IANS,

Colombo : The decision by the Indian cricket board Sunday to shift the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament to another country outside Asia has evoked shock and dismay among Sri Lankan fans who fear the move would deprive them of watching the game live on TV due to time difference.

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced Sunday that the second edition of the Twenty20 IPL will be played outside the country because state governments have expressed their inability to provide security to the tournament as it clashes with the general elections in the country.

“We know IPL organisers were struggling to finalise the time-table for the IPL tournament, but we never expected it would be moved out of India. We will surely not be able to watch most of the matches on TV due to time difference,” N. Jeevendran, a company executive, told IANS.

He said hosting it outside Asia would badly impact the enthusiasm in the game. He said the electric atmosphere that was generated in the Indian stadiums would now be a far cry.

Nilantha Bandara, director of a private company, questioned whether the move was the direct outcome of the ongoing electoral politics in India.

“Having elections and hosting a cricket tournament are two different things. We are well aware of the security issues involved in cricket nowadays, but shifting it completely out of India, is difficult to reckon with,” he said.

“I am sure the people of India, almost all of whom are cricket fans, would be more interested in cricket than elections. One should not be at the expense of the other,” Nilantha Bandara said.

Skipper Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Pervez Mahroof, Thilakaratne Dishan and Dilhara Fernando are some of the key players who have signed three-year contracts with the IPL.

Sri Lanka’s 23-year-old new spin sensation, Ajantha Mendis, has also signed up with the Kolkata Knight Riders for three years.

A retired company manager S. Nallathamby said his 14-year-old son Sanjeevan, who is a fan of Chennai Supper Kings, was planning to watch at least a couple of IPL matches in Chennai during his April holiday.

“My son was visibly boasting around with his school friends about his proposed trip to Chennai to watch the IPL matches. I do not know how to console him now,” he said.

“This is the only occasion where we see our players teaming up with various international cricket stars. Last time we saw our Jayasuriya opening with India’s Tendulkar. What a treat to watch? Taking IPL away from India is anti-climax, to say the least,” said Nallathamby, who too is a cricket fan.