Kolkata: The flashpoint in Sri Lanka on Saturday may have raised fresh fears if the country is equipped to host the six-nation Asia Cup cricket in August-September, but a senior official of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) remained bullish about keeping their commitment. Several thousands of protesters in Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo stormed the Presidential palace and demanded the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid the worst economic crisis in the island nation.
‘‘We are still quite confident of hosting the event as it’s still more than one and-a-months away. We are monitoring the situation and will be in touch with the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) for any contingency plan over the next few days,’’ said Mohan de Silva, general secretary of the Sri Lankan board.
Speaking to Gulf News exclusively over phone on Saturday evening, De Silva said the problems should ease out marginally once the supply of essentials like fuel and electricity are at least restored for the common people and there is still enough time for the same. ‘‘See, there were protesters at the Galle Stadium this afternoon where the Sri Lanka-Australia Test match is going on but no one wants to cause any harm to the cricketers. The people of the island love the game and see it as a source of national pride if the country does well,’’ he said.
Thanking Cricket Australia for going ahead with their tour despite the persistent problem for the last few months, Silva said there were no untoward instances during the tour. ‘‘Now, Pakistan is also there. This shows we have the support of the international cricket community and hence are quite hopeful about staging the continental event,’’ he observed.
The six-nation Asia Cup, comprising of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and a qualifying country is tentatively supposed to be held from August 27 to September 11.
Pat Cummins, the visiting Australia Test captain, meanwhile urged the world to donate wholeheartedly to Sri Lanka in a video posted on social media. “Sri Lanka is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in decades. I recently sat down with Kowsala and Sathuja (two local girls) in Sri Lanka to speak about their experience and learn more about what’s happening on the ground.”
“I have to say it’s an incredible country with fantastic people. However, day-to-day life here in Sri Lanka is tough at the moment and children are at the very heart of it,” said Cummins in a two-minute video on Saturday.
The people’s movement has been receiving vocal support from cricket legnds like former captain Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
“I always stand with the People of Sri Lanka. And will celebrate victory soon. This should be continued without any violation,” Jayasuriya tweeted with photos of him during the demonstration.
Sangakkara took to his official Twitter account to post a video of the Sri Lankan protests to express support for it, a post that Jayawardene also retweeted.
“This is for our future,” was the cryptic post from Sangakkara.
“We as a country have changed direction and nothing can change that…people have spoken!! #GoHomeGota #peoplepower,” tweeted Jayawardene.