|Indian activists protested against Lalit Modi after accusations were levelled at the former IPL chief [EPA]
Sri Lanka Cricket will push ahead with its inaugural premier league with Australian and Pakistani players despite a no-show by Indian stars.
"We will lose a bit of money because Indian players are not coming but the tournament will be played as planned," the island's sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said on Sunday after failed talks to bring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on board.
Fast bowlers Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel were among 12 Indian players who were blocked by the BCCI from playing in the T20 tournament in Sri Lanka from July 19 to August 4.
The minister said the Indian board's reluctance stemmed from media reports that the event was being organised by a Singapore-based company with alleged links to Lalit Modi, the sacked former boss of the Indian Premier League.
"Mr Modi is not involved in our tournament. But we have to accept India's decision. We remain friends with India," Aluthgamage said.
The London-based Modi faces criminal charges, including false accounting, and accusations by the BCCI that more than $106 million was misappropriated during his three-year tenure as IPL chairman.
The Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Ventures, who won the marketing rights for five years, has already paid an advance of $300,000 to Sri Lanka Cricket, the island's Sunday Times newspaper reported.
|Australia's cricketers will tour Sri Lanka in August and September [GALLO/GETTY]
It said India's reluctance had led to broadcaster ESPN withdrawing support for the tournament, which will feature seven teams and will include a mix of local and international players.
The newspaper said top Sri Lanka Cricket officials met Somerset chairman Sandeep M. Bhammer and chief executive Kunal Bhargava on Friday for talks, but details of the discussion remained unclear.
Aussie cash slashed
On Sunday Sri Lanka's cash-strapped cricket administration announced it had slashed the budget for Australia's tour.
Australia are due to play three Tests, five one-day matches and two Twenty20 games during their August 6 to September 20 scedule.
"We are taking austerity measures because we can't even recover the monies we are spending," Aluthgamage said.
"Lots of frills like distributing hundreds of free tickets and banquet meals for invitees will be cut."
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had budgeted 300 million rupees ($2.8 million) but the projected income was a "dismal" 150 million rupees.
Sri Lanka now hopes to spend about 100 million rupees instead on the tour, said the minister, who has moved to overhaul the cricket administration amid allegations of massive corruption and mismanagement.
Security will not be compromised, he said, after ordering the SLC to trim the 50-million-rupee security bill to just nine million rupees.
Despite ending a decades-long ethnic conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009, Sri Lanka maintains tight security for visiting teams that includes commandos from the military and private security guards.