Lasith Malinga dropped a hint that World T20 in India in March-April could be his last as far as international cricket is concerned. The Sri Lanka T20 captain, who recovered from a knee injury to return to action in the Asia Cup, said he has been playing through pain and sounded unsure of the future.
“I’m not happy. (For the) last three months I didn’t bowl a single ball. Just the last two days in the nets. But the result I am very happy. But I think I have to do more for the team. We have to play very tough teams in the future. I have (made a) come back, but I don’t know about the next day. But I will try my best. It was not my 100 per cent. Maybe 60-70 per cent. But I still managed to bowl the yorkers and slower balls. But the team expects more than that from me,” Malinga said after Sri Lanka’s 14-run win over UAE in their Asia Cup opening game on Thursday.
The 32-year-old returned with 4/26 to take the Man of the Match award but in the post-match presser, he spoke about his injury.
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“I had a very bad injury in the knee. The same thing happened in 2008. I had to get two years’ rest for it to recover. Same injury has happened on the other leg. But this is not the time to rest. We have the World Cup and I am the experienced bowler in the national team in the T20 format. So whatever I can do – use painkiller or injection or whatever – this is the end of my career. So if I can do something for the team, I want to do the best I can for my team in these last few years or few months.” Injury had been the reason why Malinga hung up his Test boots in 2010. He hasn’t played ODIs either since November last year. A very popular cricketer, home and abroad, the World T20 is likely to be his swansong.
Lanka survive UAE threat
A small group of Sri Lankan fans looked downbeat during the innings break owing to a batting slump that saw their team lose eight wickets for 61 runs to finish their innings at a modest 129/8 in their opening match of the Asia Cup against UAE on Thursday. Suddenly, there was a hint of an upset.
In the end, the apprehension proved to be unfounded. The UAE batsmen capitulated against Sri Lanka’s pace attack, stuttering to 115/9 to lose by 14 runs. But the minnows shouldn’t be ashamed. The way they came back to dent Sri Lanka’s batting progress spoke volumes of their resolve. Also, they stuck around to play full 20 overs. Coach Aquib Javed didn’t exaggerate, when he said cricket in the desert has been moving in the right direction. From Sri Lanka’s point of view, as facile as this win might be against an Associate, it will help their confidence after the T20 international series loss in India. A second-string side had been sent for that series, but now they have their big players back and two of them, Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara, made up for the batting collapse, sharing seven wickets between them.
The first ball that Malinga bowled on his return to international cricket after three months was a fast inswinger. It swung late from good length to trap Rohan Mustafa plumb in front. It was too good to be negotiated by the UAE opener.
The Sri Lanka captain bowled a slower delivery to get rid of Mohammad Shahzad in the final ball of that over. It hit the stumps almost as an afterthought, while the batsman was already through with his shot. Kulasekara should have had Muhammad Kaleem in the next over, but Milinda Siriwardana dropped a sitter at second slip. UAE, however, never looked like counting on their good fortune.
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 129/8 in 20 overs (Dinesh Chandimal 50; Amjad Javed 3/25) bt UAE 115/9 (Swapnil Patil 37; Lasith Malinga 4/26, Nuwan Kulasekara 3/10).