Sri Lanka Cricket delay India trip amid Twenty20 row

SLC chairman and secretary fail to fly to India to resolve India's refusal to allow 12 players to compete in their Twenty20 tournament.

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COLOMBO // Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have delayed a meeting with Indian officials over the participation of players in the country's inaugural Twenty20 competition.

SLC chairman DS de Silva and secretary Nishantha Ranatunga failed to make a scheduled trip to India yesterday amid diplomatic moves to defuse the row which was sparked by India's refusal to allow players to compete in the tournament.

"It's a very sensitive issue. Sri Lanka is keen not to upset relations with India. Both countries share warm relations and India's financial clout is key to Sri Lanka cricket future," an official source said asking to remain anonymous.

Fast bowlers Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel were among 12 Indian players who had sought permission to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had earlier cleared the event.

The BCCI's reversal came amid media reports that the SLPL was being organised by the Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Ventures, which allegedly has links with Lalit Modi, the sacked former boss of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Sri Lanka's sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage was optimistic the issue would be resolved amicably and denied that the London-based Modi was involved with the tournament.

Modi faces criminal charges, including false accounting, and accusations by the BCCI that more than US$106 million (Dh389.3m) was misappropriated during his three-year tenure as IPL chairman.

Modi also distanced himself from the tournament through his Twitter feed on Monday.

Sri Lanka's cricketing relations with India dipped in April after the new selection panel asked players to return during the IPL and prepare for the tour of England.

The Sri Lankan government later intervened and overruled the decision to avoid souring relations with India and the Indian cricket board.

The seven-team SLPL is set to be played from July 19 to August 4 in Colombo.