Lasith Malinga is set to miss the first part of the 2020 IPL for Mumbai Indians. ESPNcricinfo understands Malinga will not be travelling to the UAE, where the IPL will be played from September 19 to November 10, and will miss the initial games due to personal reasons.
It is understood Malinga's father has been ill and may require surgery in the coming weeks. The fast bowler wants to be by his side and will be training in Colombo. It is believed Malinga is likely to join Mumbai during the business end of the tournament, including the playoffs, where his experience will come handy.
Malinga defended eight runs in the final over of the IPL final against Chennai Super Kings last year, that too after he had leaked 42 runs in his first three overs. Bowling the last over, he conceded just seven runs off the first five balls and then took a wicket, of Shardul Thakur, on the final delivery when the Super Kings needed two to win, to seal a record fourth title for Mumbai.
One key factor that is likely to have contributed to Malinga's decision is the current quarantine protocol imposed by the Sri Lankan government for people entering the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As per the rules, anyone entering Sri Lanka needs to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, which means Malinga would have had to remain in quarantine if he flew to the UAE and then came back to see his father at any point.
Malinga, who turns 37 on August 28, has been one of the most valuable players in the IPL for Mumbai. He is the second-highest wicket-taker in T20s, behind Dwayne Bravo, and is also the highest wicket-taker in IPL with 170 wickets.
He joined Mumbai in 2009 and has been retained by the franchise in IPL ever since. In 2018 he served as a bowling mentor, but last year Mumbai paid INR 2 crore to bring him back as a player, a decision that proved to be a winning investment.
Although IPL is yet to release the tournament schedule, Mumbai are expected to play 2019 runners-up Super Kings in the first match as per the norm.
Malinga last featured for Sri Lanka in a T20I during the home series against West Indies in March this year. Incidentally, he did not participate in the residential conditioning camps Sri Lanka Cricket organised in June and July.
Mumbai may have numerous options in their pace reserves which this time include Jasprit Bumrah, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult, Mitchell McClenaghan, Dhawal Kulkarni, and allrounders Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard, but it is Malinga's experience that they will miss more than anything else.