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Face-off: Jayasuriya vs Ranatunga

Source: PTI
February 16, 2010 15:10 IST

His cricket career on the wane, former captain Sanath Jayasuriya has taken the political plunge and will have a face off against ex-teammate Arjuna Ranatunga during election campaigns for their respective alliances for the April 8 Sri Lankan Parliamentary polls.

Jayasuriya is expected to contest the upcoming General Elections under the ruling coalition United People Freedom  Alliance (UPFA) ticket from the Southern Coastal Matara District.

Jayasuriya, however, ruled out giving up cricket just yet.

"I will not give up cricket though I am coming  into politics. I was pushed to this decision after an exhaustive study," the opener said.

"I have nothing to earn from the politics. But I can work for the people who loved me a lot. It is the bounden duty to serve the people, in return, for what they did for me to come to this position," he added.

"When the UPFA invited me to contest for General Elections I accepted it since this is a golden opportunity to work people wholeheartedly," Jayasuriya told Daily News.

The 40-year-old cricketer said he got the all-clear to contest elections from the Sri Lanka Cricket Board.

Ranatunga, who left the UPFA and sided with the defeated Opposition Presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, had recently said that Jayasuriya and other active cricket players should not join politics.

While one of Arjuna Ranatunga's brother, Prasanna is the chief minister of the UPFA led Western Provincial Council, his another sibling Nishantha Ranatunga is the secretary of the Interim Committee of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

Jayasuriya, Muttaiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga had spoken in favour of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government in the advertisements during the Presidential polls that took place on January 26.

Ranatunga had claimed that the opposition parties along with him were backing Fonseka. 

The 1996 World cup winning cricket captain also accused Sports minister Gamini Lokuge of promoting his "stooges to run cricket to the ground."

He had called Lokuge and Jaysuriya for a public television debate.

Meanwhile, Lokuge, during an election campaign last week, said Ranatunga would run away if there was an electoral challenge between the two.

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