End of the road for Malinga? KJP in the pipeline | Daily News


 

End of the road for Malinga? KJP in the pipeline

Being the superstar player he is they gave him an extended run as captain which probably no other player would have got going by his captaincy record. But there comes a time when you have to throw in the towel and the recently concluded two-match T20 International series against the West Indies clearly outlined that time was not on his side. For Lasith Malinga the time has come to step down from not only the pedestal but to gracefully retire from the only format that he has been performing at international level – T20I cricket.

Malinga does not deserve to be shown the door. For the number of occasions he has performed with distinction for his country and earned the reputation as one of the most feared bowlers in one-day cricket, he does not deserve that kind of send off. But time waits for no man and Malinga must realise that at 36 he is no longer the once feared and respected bowler he was in white ball cricket. The manner in which the powerful West Indian batters dispatched him into the Pallekele stands for six sixes without much effort in the two T20Is just proved that the writing was on the wall for him.

The selectors had persisted with him long enough and the West Indies series was the litmus test for him on his future as a captain and as a player. He failed on both counts.

“Whether he is playing or captaining it comes to a similar thing,” said chief selector Ashantha de Mel of Malinga. “One thing is he doesn’t field well and what he does not realise is when you don’t field well as a leader the rest of the team will also come down. If he is not the captain I don’t think he will even find a place in the side. You can’t put him up, there is no point.”

“Losing matches you can’t blame the captain 100 percent. If the batsmen also scored enough runs we could have won the match. Captaincy also has a little bearing on the team attitude it is something the coaches will have to look at.”

Leaving his captaincy record aside where Sri Lanka has won only once (lost 14) out of 15 matches since January 2019, Malinga as a bowler has failed to live upto his reputation as the main strike bowler of his team. Since the third T20I against New Zealand at Pallekele last September where he single-handedly bowled his team to victory with figures of 5 for 6 including four wickets in four balls, Malinga has been unable to reproduce that spark in three consecutive series against Australia, India and West Indies capturing just three wickets

while going for a princely cost of 246 runs off 26 overs. In the recently concluded series against West Indies his solitary wicket cost 83 runs – figures that you would not usually associate with a bowler of his calibre.

With the next T20I series which is against South Africa not until May, the selectors are in no hurry to rush things and jump the gun.

“We have to address it for the South African series. Whatever needs to be done we will take that call from there and stick without any changes till the T20 World Cup. We’ll have a discussion with the coaches and all that and see how it goes. We will anyway take the right call,” said De Mel.

The captain according to the chief selector has to be a player who is an automatic choice in the team and there aren’t many with experience.

“We’ll have to first pick the eleven that can get in and play regularly, a person who can hold his place. One of the persons will be someone like Kusal Perera, he is the one we may have to look at. He is the only one who is sure of his place.”

In the meantime Malinga will turn his attention playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL which commences on March 29. Knowing Malinga he would want to prove a point and perform at his level best against the best power hitters in the world.

Could the IPL be his saving grace?


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