10 Sri Lankan players pulled out of the upcoming tour of Pakistan citing security concerns. T20 skipper Lasith Malinga, Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews are among the players who opted out. Sri Lanka were scheduled to play 3 ODIs and as many T20Is from September 27

COLOMBO: In what can be seen as a blow to Pakistan's hopes of bringing back full-fledged international cricket to the country, 10 Sri Lanka players have pulled out of the upcoming tour of Pakistan, citing security fears.

The decision was taken after a meeting organised by Sri Lanka Cricket with players of the national team on Monday, Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement.

T20 skipper Lasith Malinga, Dimuth Karunaratne and Angelo Mathews are among the players who opted out. Sri Lanka were scheduled to visit Pakistan for a bilateral series, which included 3 one-day internationals and the same number of Twenty20 internationals between September 27 and October 9.

Pakistan had been an isolated destination for international cricket since the 2009 terrorist attack in which gunmen targeted a Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore, leaving several cricketers injured.

Families of several Sri Lankan players were reportedly uncomfortable with the prospect of the stars playing in Pakistan. However, An official source in the Pakistan Cricket Board had told Press Trust of India that Pakistan would accept whatever team the Sri Lankan board sends.

'Players were given freedom to decide'

"Technically it is an internal matter of the Sri Lankan board so we can't comment on it. But the bottom line is that the tour is on from 25th September and we are making all preparations to host them in Karachi and Lahore," PTI quoted the source as saying.

Pakistan have not hosted a high-profile team for a full length tour ever since the terrorist attack in 2009. The Sri Lankan team had come down to Lahore for a day to play a lone T20 match in October, 2017 while the ICC World Eleven and West Indies have also played short T20 series in Pakistan in the last two years.

"Sri Lanka Cricket today held a meeting with players, who were chosen as part of a preliminary squad to select the team, which will be touring Pakistan to play 03 ODIs and 03 T20i matches, starting from 27th September to 09th October, 2019," an official Sri Lanka Cricket statement read.

"Former Sri Lanka Air Force Commander, Marshal Air Roshan Goonetileke, who is the Chief Security Advisor of the SLC, briefed the players about the security situation in Pakistan and the security arrangements PCB plans on implementing during Sri Lanka team's tour of that country, whilst Chairman of the National Selection Panel Mr. Asantha De Mel, explained about the selection policy for future tours.

"He said, players will be given the freedom to decide on either taking part or not in the forthcoming Pakistan tour.

"Accordingly, the following players chose to stay away from the upcoming Pakistan series - Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Janith Perera, Dhananjaya De Silva, Thisara Perera, Akila Dhananjaya, Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews, Suranga Lakmal, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne."

"Following the meeting with the players, the National Selectors, selected a T20i and ODI squad to tour Pakistan, and the respective squads will be sent to the approval of the Minister of Telecommunication, Foreign Employment and Sports Honorable Harin Fernando in due course."

The Sri Lankan and Pakistan boards had agreed to the limited over series. However SLC had initially rejected a request to play two games of the ICC World Test Championship in Pakistan.

Sri Lanka are also expected to take a decision on whether to play the Tests in December in Pakistan or in the UAE.