At the hotel lobby, Suraj Randiv accepted the greetings of 'good news, macha (friend)' from members of his Chennai Super Kings team with a smile before stepping out with his partner for a walk down the road in Parel.
Though the stoic expression on his face belied any sense of excitement, the Sri Lanka off-spinner's demeanour suggested a sense of relief on hearing that his cricket board had reached an understanding with the Indian board over the stay of Lankan players in the IPL.
Randiv and his fellow players had become pawns in the 'Country versus IPL' debate after Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) decided to call back its players early from the IPL to prepare for the forthcoming tour of England. Randiv was heard telling his CSK friends that for the players, it was not about money or loyalty; it was just that the uncertainty had ended.
SL get flexible
According to reports, the SLC extended the deadline for its players to return till May 18 following pressure from the Board of Control for Cricket in India. It is learnt that the decision was taken during a meeting between the Sri Lanka board officials, chairman of selectors Duleep Mendis and sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage in Colombo on Thursday evening.
The Lanka players, participating in the IPL, will most likely leave from Mumbai on May 18 for their tour of England.
Can't irk BCCI
For the cricket politics watchers, the Sri Lankan board's climb down was expected, as they couldn't afford to strain relations with the powerful Indian board, which has bailed them out a number of times.
According to an SLC insider, the matter was resolved after 'the higher ups' in Sri Lanka politics intervened. The decision to ask the players to return early was to express their displeasure at the shabby treatment meted out to the SL ministers during the World Cup final, and the intention was never to cause any real damage to the IPL.
The arrangement, though, is not yet clear. Sri Lanka's first tour game is on May 14. There are seven England-bound cricketers playing in the IPL, and if all of them leave on the 18th, how will they field a team for the tour opener? And, can the team leave without their captain, T Dilshan, who plays for Royal Challengers Bangalore?
But according to sources, the SLC is thinking of sending reserve players for the first tour game. It is unlikely the seven players will make it on time for the second tour game as well, which starts from May 19.