Malinga likely to miss NZ ODIs
Lasith Malinga may miss the entire ODI series against New Zealand after failing to recover from a knee injury he sustained during West Indies' tour of Sri Lanka in October and November. Malinga has remained in Sri Lanka, while standby player Thisara Perera has joined the squad in Christchurch.
Malinga will miss the first two ODIs - on December 26 and 28 - at the very least, but is doubtful for the remainder of the series as well.
"He has not come for the ODIs," team manager Jerry Woutersz said. "He's feeling some discomfort in his knee. Whether he will come between the ODIs and T20s - no one knows."
Malinga is the third absent player from Sri Lanka's squad. Dhammika Prasad was previously ruled out through injury, while Kusal Perera is still suspended after testing positive for banned substances.
New Zealand batting coach Craig McMillan said Malinga's absence was a "big loss" for Sri Lanka.
"What a contributor Malinga has been over a number of years for Sri Lanka," McMillan said. "He has been their key fast bowler. He's a handful. I'm sure they'll miss him, but it gives an opportunity to some other younger guys in the squad."
Malinga is Sri Lanka's T20 captain. The selectors have not yet indicated who will take up the captaincy if Malinga is ruled out of that series as well.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando