IPL Auction 2021: MI coach Jayawardene disappointed at absence of Lankan players in IPL auction, says ‘message for them to improve’

IPL Auction 2021: Mumbai Indians head coach Mahela Jayawardene said it is ‘disheartening’ that no Sri Lankan player was picked in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 mini-auction on Thursday and added that the island players need to lift their game in order to feature in the tournament.

Lasith Malinga’s decision to retire and Royal Challengers Bangalore’s decision to release Isuru Udana ahead of the auction means that no Sri Lankan player will be part of the league for the first time in its history. However, Udana, Kusal Perera and Thisara Perera were part of the auction but all went unsold while rookie Jaffna leg-spinner Vijayakanth Vilasanti made it among the 298 players that were shortlisted to go under the hammer.

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“I think we still have the representation, so we’re happy (joking about him and Sangakkara being in the IPL). But yeah, a bit disappointed. I’m sure a few of the guys were on the radar, but I think it’s a tough place because you’re looking at 20-odd slots for the overseas players and the majority of the slots were for those fast bowlers and all-rounders, which I think Sri Lanka lacks a little bit of that,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Jayawardene as saying.

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“But I’m sure the younger generation will come through and till then, it is disheartening but that is what it is. IPL is a place where you try and get the best players in world cricket to come and play. And it’s a good message for the Sri Lankan players to lift their game up, get competitive, so they could be part of the IPL on their merit,” he added.

In the players’ auction held on Thursday, defending champions Mumbai Indians picked up, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jimmy Neesham, Yudhvir Charak, Marco Jansen, Arjun Tendulkar and Piyush Chawla.