World T20 2016 March 8, 2016

Malinga steps down as captain, Mathews to lead in World T20


Lasith Malinga played only one match in the Asia Cup, due to a slow recovery from his knee injury © BCB

Lasith Malinga has stepped down as Sri Lanka's T20 captain ahead of the World T20 in India, but will remain part of the squad. Angelo Mathews will lead the team in his place. The team is hopeful Malinga can be available for their first match on March 17, though that is dependent on his recovery over the next week.

Sri Lanka's new selection committee have also made two other changes to their squad for the World T20, on the day the team is due to depart to India; Lahiru Thirimanne and Suranga Lakmal have been brought in to replace Jeffrey Vandersay and Niroshan Dickwella.

Malinga had offered to step down as captain after concerns had grown over his slow recovery from a knee injury. He had handed Sri Lanka Cricket a letter voicing reservations about continuing as captain, as he could no longer guarantee participation in Sri Lanka's full campaign. The overuse injury to his left knee had kept him out of competitive cricket for three months. Though he returned to play one Asia Cup match, he has been sidelined for almost two weeks since.

Thirimanne's initial omission from the World T20 squad had caused a stir, as his limited-overs contributions had been good throughout 2015, despite very lean Test returns. Both Kumar Sangakkara and Aravinda de Silva had publicly supported Thirimanne following that omission, and, having now been installed as selectors on Monday night, have made Thirimanne a late addition to this World T20 squad.

He has been in good domestic form, albeit in first-class cricket, having hit two centuries and a fifty in five innings over the span of a month. Last year, he averaged 43.05 across 24 ODI innings. He had also made significant contributions to Sri Lanka's 2014 World T20 campaign - particularly in the semi-final against West Indies, where he top-scored with 44.

"If you look at what the other teams are doing, they've got a batsman who gives stability and helps consolidate, at no.3," new chief selector Aravinda de Silva said. "We wanted someone who could do that, and Thirimanne has been scoring runs at home."

Lakmal comes fresh from captaining his first-class side to victory in the Premier League Tournament. He had been injured for parts of the domestic season, but claimed 19 wickets in the last four rounds of four-day matches. His inclusion bolsters the seam-bowling contingent in this squad, which now features three frontline pacemen, as well as allrounders Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera and Dasun Shanaka.

The ousted selection panel had picked wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella as a potential opening partner for Tillakaratne Dilshan. But with the team now having moved Dinesh Chandimal to the top of the order, Dickwella finds himself left out by the new selectors. Legspinner Jeffrey Vandersay was unused during the Asia Cup, where tracks generally favoured seam bowlers.

The Sri Lanka team is scheduled to fly to India on Tuesday evening.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chatty on March 10, 2016, 17:37 GMT

    Well, the practice match is over. Another flop. It was great to see Thiri put up a fight together with Kapu. I think the bits and pieces players - Thisara, Shanaka - they should not be in the team. The best top 6 I can think of are (mind you, they are not earth shattering finds!): Chandi, Dilshan, Thiri, Kapu, Angie and Milinda. I am not sure that having all rounders will help (the ones we have can neither bat nor bowl) So, go with 5 bowlers: Two spinners - Herath and Sena 3 Pace bowlers: Kule, Chameera and Malinga (if M is not there, then, Lakmal) Wickets will dictate some changes. But this is the best I can see. I think SL has to rely on 5 bowlers to keep the opposition down to a manageable total (Angie is there to bowl a few as well) And then expect the top 6 to get the total.

  • Chatty on March 10, 2016, 15:23 GMT

    As I noted before, I struggle to see Thisara's role in the team for the WC. The on going practice game against NZ shows that he cannot keep the scoring down.It is raining sixes in Mumbai. So, the only rationale I can think of is that he is counted upon to hit the ball out of the park. May be the wickets are going to be the typical Indian roads where to bat, great skill is not really required; where bowlers are there just so that they can be hit out of the ground. May be the selectors have seen the pitches. May be that is the rationale. At least, I hope so! Because otherwise, a spin bowling all rounder could have been a much better choice.

  • Pradeep on March 10, 2016, 3:42 GMT

    @VAISHAK13 Agree with you a great extent.But wait for how long? Mate now Bangladesh is beating us when they were ball followers on the park few years back. We surely can't wait until Oman and Hongkong beat us. Can we???

  • Easygoing on March 10, 2016, 2:41 GMT

    Where's Kusal Perera? No news that he's suspended - still in limbo?

    And Danushka Gunathilaka - big hitter and the kind you want for T20s, but not selected?

    Thiri's a great batsman with a good future. Just too many nerves to play right now. And Kapu - how many times does the man need to prove that he's no good at international cricket? In his defence, he's a good player but give him more time than one series and into a world cup!

  • Nath on March 9, 2016, 20:09 GMT

    You must give the most devastating batsment the most amout of balls. only them will you have a chance of having the larger ttals instead of the average ones. This is how the whole whorld is going. ABD, Warner, maxwell, Hales, Gale, Guptil, Munro, . If SL had these players they would have been sent and 7 or 8 down. Such is the lack of forsight in the SL camp. Dont wast your power hitters dwn the order. Give them the maximum number of balls. - Eventually it will pay rich dividents. - Bring thisara peraera and other like him up the order

  • Nath on March 9, 2016, 20:02 GMT

    The longer thirimanna is at the crease the higher the chance of SL not winning. this is due to many reasons 1) When he starts so slowly it puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the team prompting them to try bad shots to get the rate up - leading to their dismissals) When he wastes deliveries at such a rate this takes away balls that another faster score has - thus significantly reducing the total team score. Just think what a difference the 30 balls thiri has, was given to thisara on a consistent basis. 3) they keeps other players getting a fair run in the team -just 1 or 2 tries & they get discarded but people like thiri and chandimal get so many chances. I can only think of ravindra jadeja who has got a similar unfair & undeserved backing from dhoni. maybe there are 1 or 2 other in the world like that but not many. In all thiri has got 148 international inning (test,ODI and IT20) & 172 for chandimal - but no improvement to speak of - how unfair it is for other players & SL fan.

  • Cricinfouser on March 9, 2016, 19:36 GMT

    What is the sri Lankan "brand" of cricket ? It was our "brand" that won the cup for us in '96. However, having your brand is one thing, you still have to evolve, change and adapt and continuously improve to stay ahead of the pack and still be competitive. In recent times, we have lost our way, partly because the youngsters who were identified and groomed have not delivered. We have to believe in ourselves again and be able to think and react to competitors out there on the cricket field and the players must understand that they have to deliver consistently.

  • Nath on March 9, 2016, 19:36 GMT

    Lahiru thirimanne and Chandimal had got so many undeserved chances at the top or middle of the order its really disappointing.. There seems to be a serious soft corner from these two players among seniors like sungakkara and selectors etc Thirimanna and even chandimal to a lesser extent have time and again disappointed. Its hard to think of too many players not only in sri lanka but even around any team in the world who have been given so many chances when they continue to time and again disappoint. Why cant they back people like thisara perera. He is always used as a late order slogger so how can he grow to his potential.. He has the talent but no one backs him at the top of the order.. They say his tequnque is not good enough but the team must back him for an extended period at the top only then can he grow into the larger role and see himself to be more than a slogger. Just think if Sanath Jayasooriya was never backed at the top of the order where would SL cricket be now?

  • manjula on March 9, 2016, 13:51 GMT

    why not Dhanushka Gunathilaka? He was a promising player. Better than Thisara.

  • sanjeewa on March 9, 2016, 13:01 GMT

    one thing that so a selectors missed is that t 20 is not only a power hitters game. a good technically correct batsmen can score runs like 20 ball 30 u don't need to be a big hitter to score like that. that's why we are saying at present situation those so called big hitter like dasun. thisara etc players can't face international level bowlers. if we choose 7proper bats we can easily score 180 without playing big shots. for that case thirimannes inclusion can justify. but club level players like dasun and Sheehan and thisara (neither can bat or bowl useless player)inclution is a stupid selection. should be there tharanga and prasad, jeewan mendis (has doubts but still better than dasun and shehan)

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