Lasith Malinga, the World Cup's equal leading wicket-taker, has been ruled out of Sri Lanka's match against New Zealand on Thursday with a grade two tear in his left ankle. With the recovery period set between seven and 14 days, Malinga will almost certainly miss the Australia game on in Grenada on Monday and perhaps even the Ireland clash there two days later.
Malinga did not train on Tuesday after hurting himself while running at an earlier practice session. Sri Lanka, who first believed the problem was nothing serious, could bring in Farveez Maharoof or Nuwan Kulasekara. But the loss of Malinga, who has 15 victims at 14.26 in the tournament and took a record four wickets in four balls against South Africa, is a serious one against the top-of-the-table New Zealand. Muttiah Muralitharan, meanwhile, has recovered from his groin strain.
"We've got experienced players who can come in and we are confident they can do a job for us," Mahela Jayawardene told AFP. "It depends on how much of a gamble we want to take at this stage."
Jayawardene said an unbeaten New Zealand had not been truly tested in the Caribbean and Sri Lanka were in a good position to challenge them, having drawn 2-2 in their ODI series in New Zealand in December and January. "They are playing some really good cricket but they haven't played one of the top teams yet," he said.
"They've got a very good all-round side and bat until deep. We've played them a lot in the last 12 months and we know their strengths and weaknesses."