Sri Lanka news March 7, 2016

Injury casts cloud over Malinga captaincy at World T20

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Fernando: Malinga's full availability not guaranteed

Lasith Malinga has offered to step down as Sri Lanka's T20 captain, after concerns over the slow recovery of a knee injury have grown. The board is yet to make a final call on whether a change of leadership is needed, but Malinga has handed the board a letter voicing reservations about keeping the job when he cannot guarantee his availability for Sri Lanka's full campaign.

An MRI scan on Monday confirmed substantial damage to Malinga's knee, but also suggested that he could manage the injury with painkillers over the next few weeks. The team is scheduled to leave for India on Tuesday, but Malinga is considering staying in Sri Lanka to receive further treatment. He may not depart to India until the days before Sri Lanka's first match, on March 17.

This overuse injury to the left knee - on which he lands during the delivery stride - has troubled him since West Indies' series in Sri Lanka in November last year. He missed Sri Lanka's tour of New Zealand in December and January, and was later ruled out of the T20s in India, in February. Then, Malinga played only one match of four during the Asia Cup, taking four wickets in Sri Lanka's solitary victory against UAE, before sitting out games against Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. It is understood he has not bowled in the nets since the UAE game, though, he is not a player who generally requires extensive net bowling before matches.

The recovery date for this injury has always been vague, but has been much slower than initially expected, prompting particular worry. It was hoped Malinga could be fit for the T20s in New Zealand, and he was picked for the Asia Cup on the understanding he could play a substantial role in that tournament.

This is also the third serious injury to hit Malinga's career. He had previously been plagued by a similar overuse injury in his right knee, which he said forced him to retire from Tests in 2010. Then in 2014, a long-term ankle injury was operated on in the months leading up to last year's World Cup. It now appears possible that this current injury could end his international career. In the approach to the Asia Cup, Malinga had hinted the World T20 might be his final foray for Sri Lanka.

Angelo Mathews appears the likeliest captaincy candidate if Malinga does step down, though Dinesh Chandimal is also an option. Malinga's potential absence as a bowler is perhaps the bigger blow to Sri Lanka's campaign. He has been instrumental to Sri Lanka's march to three World T20 finals over the last four tournaments, and is also the World T20's most successful bowler. He has been a diminished threat since his ankle surgery in 2014, but remains - at least in spirit - Sri Lanka's limited-overs spearhead.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Thilina Jeewan Liyanage on March 8, 2016, 14:48 GMT

    thisara perea should be open batsmen

  • Thilina Jeewan Liyanage on March 8, 2016, 14:46 GMT

    thirimanna for sangakkara

  • Litmus on March 8, 2016, 9:36 GMT

    Malinga should not play unless he is 100%. It's not beneficial to him or the team.

  • Anubhav-the-Experience on March 8, 2016, 8:08 GMT

    Malinga should not waste his ability and work on his fitness more but more in traditional manner.

  • armchair_critic007 on March 8, 2016, 6:14 GMT

    Mystery spinners dont work in this day and age.You need to have smart,intelligent spinners like Ashwin,Herath,Swann,Lyon etc..

  • shervonf on March 8, 2016, 5:40 GMT

    Thisara will have to be promoted as all the experts say to number 3 ,he did well in big games. 2011 WC Final and 2014 T20 Final (not out in both). Ajantha Mendis should come in, most of the new batsman will strugle with him (he is second best in the domestic tournament this time as well) and Thirimanna is a big match player. He should come in.

  • gnanzcupid on March 8, 2016, 5:19 GMT

    Malinga is must to beat the associate nations. Even a half fit malinga is must to beat the quaifiers. Just 24 balls inorder to protect the lankan legacy. Fans Can't imagine what would have happened if malinga had not played the UAE game. Lankan fans can't bear the shame of losing to the associates. Get well soon

  • Thar1ndu on March 8, 2016, 5:01 GMT

    Best Playing XI for WC 1.Dhanushka/Munaweera 2.Dilshan 3.Chandimal(wk) (c)4.Thirimanne 5.Mathews 6.Milinda 7.Thisara 8.Kule 9.Sachithra/Herath 10.Chameera 11.Malinga/Eranga/Kasun NO KAPU OR SHANAKA. They are not good batsmen.SL need to play with thirimanna instead of Kapugedara.Eranga is also a good option.

  • AishwaryaRai on March 8, 2016, 3:22 GMT

    LAKINGSFAN , problem is without him SL may even lose to the assosiate teams like UAE,Hongkong,Nepal.......etc

  • polonga on March 8, 2016, 1:45 GMT

    Promote Thisara to open batting with Dilshan. Bring back Ajantha Mendis and N Pradeep. Then we have 2 guys who can bowl really fast and a mystery spinner. I think Kulasekara is well passed his use by date. Get rid of all these bit and pieces type all rounders. Maharoof is an option.

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