Door still open for Malinga, insists Hathurusingha

Sri Lanka’s National Coach Chandika Hathurusingha yesterday reiterated that there was still a place in the National Team for Lasith Malinga, if the fast bowler did his part and met selection criteria.

It has been almost a year since Malinga last represented Sri Lanka in an international encounter - a T20I at home against India last
September - and his omission since then has been widely discussed.

Hathurusingha however, said the door was still open and Malinga had the same opportunity that any other player had to be selected, if he played domestic cricket which was the primary criteria.

“He has the same opportunity that any other cricketer has, to get into the team. If he plays in the domestic tournaments, like any other player the selectors will look at him as an option depending on the team’s requirement,” Hathurusingha said.

In May, after the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Malinga was named in the Dambulla Squad for the Super Provincial One-Day Tournament, with the selectors demanding that the player must take part in that tournament to be considered for National selection.

But the bowler instead chose to stay in India and honour his commitment with the Mumbai Indians IPL franchise who had drafted Malinga as a Bowling Mentor.

Hathurusingha, meanwhile, was encouraged by the reducing number of injuries to fast bowlers, adding that the nature of injuries in that last four months had not been severe.

“The last six months we’ve seen a tremendous improvement in terms of injuries. We haven’t got any soft tissue injuries in the last four months. That’s a good sign for us, and that is down to training schedules are being managed,” Hathurusingha said, adding that two of Sri Lanka’s premier fast bowlers who had been sidelined with injuries are due to return to action soon.

Dushmantha Chameera is expected to feature right through the upcoming SLC T20 League, while Nuwan Pradeep will be eased into action and will likely play a part at the latter stages of the tournament.  Injuries to fast-bowlers will remain a concern leading into the ICC Cricket World Cup next year, Hathurusingha said, but he was also happy with how preparations for the show-piece event were going.

“We know the depth in batting that we have.

The concern with (the fast) bowling is injuries and the selectors and I didn’t have a full squad to select in terms of bowlers because of injuries,” he said.

“The spin department is still evolving and we hope we can look for different combinations.
There are still places up for grab, but overall we know the plan we have and, barring injuries, how we want to play going forward.” (SMD)