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August 8, 2011
Sri Lanka's fast bowler Lasith Malinga has said he is fit and ready to face Australia in the five-match one-day series, having recovered from a back ailment.
Malinga was ruled out of the two Twenty20 matches that began Australia's tour, but he trained freely on Sunday and subsequently said his body was ready for battle.
"I feel that I am fit and ready for the five ODIs that are coming up," Malinga told the Sunday Times. "I will play in all the games if I am picked, and am ready for it."
Having retired from Test cricket to concentrate on the shorter formats, Malinga will be a significant addition to the Sri Lankan squad if chosen for the ODI series, and another headache for an Australian side that must tighten up considerably on its performance in the tour opener on Saturday.
Another significant inclusion for the Sri Lankans could be that of opening batsman Upul Tharanga, who with 395 runs at 56.42 was one of the key members of a World Cup batting line-up that made it all the way to the final. Following the tournament he was suspended for the use of a banned drug, but extenuating circumstances meant a three-month suspension.
Tharanga had provided a urine sample as part of the ICC's random in-competition testing programme after the World Cup semi-final between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Colombo on March 29. His sample was tested by a WADA accredited laboratory and found to contain Prednisone and Prednisolone, which are 'Specified Substances' under WADA's prohibited list and are banned from being used in-competition "when administered by oral, intravenous intramuscular or rectal routes."
The anti-doping tribunal accepted Tharanga's submission that he had ingested the substances by drinking a herbal remedy given to him to ease discomfort caused by a long-standing shoulder injury.
The tribunal also found that "Tharanga had no intention to enhance his sporting performance or to mask the use of another performance enhancing substance, but that he had failed to satisfy the high levels of personal responsibility implicit upon him as an international cricketer subject to anti-doping rules."
Tharanga's ban ends on August 9, making him available for selection for the first match of the series in Kandy on August 10.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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