IPL 2021: No Sri Lankan players in Indian Premier League this year

For the first time in the history of the Indian Premier League, no players from Sri Lanka are in the eight squads that will take part in the T20 tournament this year.

Mahela Jayawardene and Mumbai Indians

Sri Lanka will be represented by Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardene (in picture), Kumar Sangakkara, the director of cricket at Rajasthan Royals, and Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the coaching staff of Sunrisers Hyderabad.   -  Mumbai Indians

For the first time in the history of the Indian Premier League, no Sri Lankan cricketers will feature in the tournament which is expected to be held in India, from April till the first week of June.

Even though the country will be represented by Kumar Sangakkara - the director of cricket at Rajasthan Royals - Mahela Jayawardene - the head coach of Mumbai Indians - and Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the coaching staff at Sunrisers Hyderabad, none of the eight franchises picked any player from the island nation in the IPL 2021 auction in Chennai on Thursday. “We will still have the representation, so we will be happy,” Jayawardene said jokingly after the auction.

Our correspondents Vijay Lokapally, Shayan Acharya and Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya discuss the men's side's season thus far and what to look forward to in the upcoming season of the Indian Premier League.

 


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“It is a bit disappointing. I think a few guys were on the radar, but it’s a tough place because we are looking at all 20 odd slots for the overseas players, and the majority of those slots were for the fast bowlers and all-rounders. Sri Lanka lacks a bit of that, but I am sure that the younger generation will come through, and till then, it is disheartening. But that is what it is,” Jayawardene said.

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“IPL is the place where you try and get the best players in world cricket, and it’s a good message for the Sri Lankan cricketers to lift their game and be competitive so that they could be part of the IPL on their merit,” the former captain added.

Last year, Isuru Udana and Lasith Malinga were part of the IPL, but with Malinga pulling out due to personal reasons, only Udana played for Royal Challengers Bangalore. But he was released ahead of the auction this year and went unsold on Thursday.

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Unpredictable scheduling 

Sangakkara, however, believes the ‘unpredictable’ touring programme of the country’s cricket board is the main reason why franchises have shied away from picking Lankan talents.

“The crucial area is the unpredictability of the touring programme of SLC (Sri Lanka Cricket) where it is very hard to predict how long the players can be available and if they have to leave at some point during the IPL season. It does add a kind of volatility that a lot of franchises shy away from,” Sangakkara said.

“That’s one of the biggest reasons why you see a lack of Sri Lankan players in the IPL and definitely not because they don’t have the capability or the talent,” he added.

In 2019, there was a lot of uncertainty over the availability of Malinga, who had to return to Sri Lanka for a week in the middle of the IPL to feature in a domestic tournament and then come back to India to join Mumbai Indians.