Now the ball is on Malinga’s court, says SLC



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by Rex Clementine


Fast bowler Lasith Malinga faces an international isolation after Sri Lanka Cricket put down its foot yesterday and said the 34-year-old needs to return home to play the Inter-Provincial one-day tournament that gets underway today in Colombo.


Malinga is currently in India working as a Fast Bowling Consultant with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League tournament. Last week, releasing a video from Bombay, Malinga claimed that he is ready for an international return during the home series against South Africa in July but declined to turn up for the domestic matches.


During a media briefing yesterday at SLC headquarters, officials admitted that Malinga’s chances of making a comeback in ODI cricket targeting next year’s World Cup was over, but indicated that he still could play a role in T-20 Internationals.


"The selectors will have to make a call in case Lasith doesn’t play any domestic cricket," SLC Chief Thilanga Sumathipala told journalists.


Expressing his views on the issue, CEO Ashley de Silva said, "We have informed Lasith that he has been selected to play the Inter-Provincial one-day tournament. If he doesn’t play, it is unlikely that the selectors will consider him."


Since his return to international cricket after a serious knee injury, Malinga has struggled in ODI cricket having claimed only ten wickets in 13 ODIs at an average of 62, way above his career average of 28. However, he has been good at delivering the four overs in T-20 Internationals having claimed 12 wickets in six games at an average of 16:20.


To make matters worse for Malinga, the Mumbai Indians franchise owned by business tycoon Mukesh Ambani ended their decade long association with the bowler when they didn’t retain him ahead of the 2018 IPL. Then, he went unsold during the auction lead up to the current season. Eventually Malinga settled for a mentor role with Mumbai Indians.


"I do believe that we can make use of him for T-20 Internationals. We wouldn’t have had any problem had he been playing matches at the IPL, but the issue is that he is on the bench," Sumathipala added.


Sri Lanka’s team management had indicated that with time running out ahead of next year’s World Cup, they will look at various options. Sri Lanka’s bowling in particular lacks teeth and last year the team suffered three 5-0 whitewashes at the hands of Pakistan, India and South Africa. Yesterday’s media briefing was confirmation that when it comes to ODIs, they were looking beyond Malinga.


However, whether the bowler is ready to make a comeback in T-20 Internationals remains to be seen after the board put the ball on his court yesterday.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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