Malinga hints at retirement after World T20
Two wickets in his first over and two more in his second spell was how Lasith Malinga marked his comeback into competitive cricket after more than three months. Figures of 4 for 26 helped Sri Lanka beat the UAE by 14 runs but the performance didn't entirely make him happy.
Instead, Malinga said that he is on his last legs and might even consider announcing his retirement from T20Is. Towards the end of the post-match press conference, Malinga was asked if he would make a retirement announcement before the World T20 like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara did in 2014.
"There might be," was Malinga's response with a smile, before there was a long pause which eventually ended the briefing.
He had earlier said that his international career is now at a stage from where he can't really take long breaks, like he had to take after the knee injury that kept him out for the last three months.
"I am playing [for] 12 years in the national team, I am 32 years old," Malinga said. "I think if now I have an injury, it is hard to get rest. If I take rest for a year or more, that's the end of my career. If I need to play for my country, I have to play tough cricket in the last few months or years. I don't think I can fully recover from this injury but I try to manage this in future.
"I don't know how many months or years I will play. [At the] end of my career, I try to play maximum number of games for my national team or in the IPL. I want to play as long as possible, and at my best."
Malinga said that this has been a difficult comeback for him given that he hadn't played a game since November last year, due to a knee injury which he said was similar to the one he suffered in 2008 that kept him out of cricket for nearly a year.
"I am not happy [with my performance today]," Malinga said. "I haven't bowled a single ball in the last three months. I just bowled in the nets in the last two days. I am happy with the result but I think I have to do more for the team. I will try my best in the next game. [This performance] is not my 100 percent, maybe 60-70 percent, but still I managed to bowl yorkers and slower balls. Team expects more than that from me."
"I had a very bad injury in the knee. Same thing happened in 2008. I needed two years rest to recover. I had same injury in the other leg. This is not the right time to rest since we have the World T20. I am the experienced bowler in the T20 format. I have to use painkillers and injections, whatever I have to do [to play]. This is the end of my career so I want to do something for the team. I want to give my best in the last few years or maybe few months."
Coming back to the game, Malinga said that they were not too sure of the total they would have to put in front of the UAE as the pitch surprised them.
"We were not prepared for this wicket in Bangladesh. This is a really good wicket. We didn't know a target batting first. I am always saying we have to set a target. We got 129 so this is the best score for our team.
"We had to minimise those boundaries to defend that total. Their bowlers did really well, there was movement off the wicket and bit of grass. We managed to do well because we have experienced bowlers like myself, Rangana [Herath] and [Nuwan] Kulasekara. I am really not disappointed with the batsmen. UAE is a good side. I never underestimated them."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84