Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Malinga, who has been under an injury cloud, has finally flown to India for the World T20. The rest of his team-mates are already in the country, but Malinga had to stay behind to undergo treatment on his left knee. He is still doubtful for Sri Lanka's opening game, though, against Afghanistan on March 17.
Malinga described his injury as a "bone bruise". Doctors say it occurs as a result of sustaining forceful impacts while playing sports. In the case of a bowler like Malinga, his left knee supports his entire body weight during his delivery stride.
"This is a bone injury that cannot be operated or treated medically. I am having only some injections [not pain killers] to make it heal. The only remedy for it is rest," Malinga said at the airport in Colombo on Sunday. "I will practice in the next few days with the team and see how my knee is taking up the pressure. If I don't feel any pain I will play in the opening match, but if not it is a decision for the selectors to make."
Malinga has been nursing this injury since last December. He missed the two-match series against New Zealand, came back for the Asia Cup in his designated role as Twenty20 captain, but was sidelined immediately after a match-winning display against UAE. In fact, Malinga has played only five of Sri Lanka's 13 T20Is since the start of 2015, in a very scattered manner: one match in May, one in July, one in August, two in November and his final game was in February 2016.
Malinga's fitness issues forced a change in leadership and Angelo Mathews was appointed captain of Sri Lanka for the World T20. But the selection panel - both the current one led by Aravinda de Silva and the previous one led by Kapila Wijegunawardene - seemed reluctant to completely rule Malinga out because of the impact he can have. He is the most successful bowler in the World T20 - 38 wickets in 31 matches. Overall he has 299 wickets in T20 cricket.
Malinga, who had hinted at retiring after the World T20, said on the flight to Kolkata: "Why do the selectors want to pick a half-fit bowler like me when there are other fit bowlers around?"