COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lankan cricketers will be wary, changed men when they line-up at the IPL, their first foreign assignment since they were caught up in the bloodbath of Lahore. On March 3, gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus en route for the third day of the second Test against Pakistan in the city. Eight Pakistanis died; seven of the tourists, as well as their assistant coach, were wounded. "We have all had to grow up a bit more and not be so naive to think that sportsmen are somehow immune from the troubles of the world," Sri Lanka's new skipper Kumar Sangakkara told "The Munich Olympics were probably the last time a sports team has been targeted like this. We lived in a bubble thinking we were untouchable. "That has gone now. The sense of security has disappeared. These threats are real, and not just confined to one section of society." The 2009 IPL, which starts on Saturday, was shifted to South Africa after Indian authorities admitted that they could not give security guarantees as the tournament clashed with elections in the country. Sri Lanka sports minister Gamini Lokuge regretted the IPL was moved out of India, whose financial muscle accounts for about 70 percent of the game's worldwide revenues. "Safety takes precedence over what fans here want," Lokuge told AFP. "I can't risk our national players for overseas matches, where the organisers can't protect them." Sangakkara, who scored 320 runs for the King's XI Punjab in last year's IPL, reckoned the stadium buzz in India cannot be replicated in South Africa, but the tournament still has a strong appeal. "The electrifying atmosphere, the music, the shouting, the sea of people, you know, you won't find that there (South Africa). I think that might be a way to shift it back to India next year," he said. Meanwhile, Sri Lankan fans are looking forward to seeing their star cricketers playing alongside other international players. Many fans hope the event will sharpen the team's game ahead of the World Twenty20 championship that begins in England in June. "This year's IPL throws up opportunities for top level cricketers to share their game plans inside dressing rooms. That's valuable feedback for our cricketers ahead of the World Twenty20," said musician Malik Seneviratne. Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardane, Sanath Jayasuriya, Thilakaratne Dishan and Ajantha Mendis are some of the key players on three-year contracts with the IPL. Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka's former skipper, plays alongside India's Sachin Tendulkar and many fans see the duo as twin weapons for the Mukesh Ambani-owned Mumbai Indians. "It's a rare chance to see two great batsmen, Jayasuriya and Tendulkar play alongside each other, and I am looking forward to it," hairdresser Ayesha Madushanthi said. Lawyer Suren Gnanaraj feels international cricket is dominated by a handful of teams, making their results fairly predictable, when national teams are pitted against weaker Test playing nations. "IPL brings about that balance, the results are unpredictable, which adds to the excitement. The need is quick entertainment and IPL gives that for Sri Lankan fans," Gnanaraj said.