For the last couple of seasons, Lasith Malinga has not featured in the Sri Lanka national cricket team on a regular basis. Continued injury concerns, especially in his knees and lack of form have resulted in Malinga getting sidelined from national duties for a considerable amount of time. However, in dramatic style, Malinga has been appointed captain of the Sri Lanka team for the ODI and Twenty20 International series that will be played in New Zealand. For the veteran, this gives him one last chance to prove his mettle ahead of the 2019 World Cup in England, which could be his last.
Malinga only returned to international cricket in September 2018 in the Asia Cup tournament held in the UAE. He impressed on his return with figures of 4/23 against Bangladesh. He bowled in excess of 140 kmph for most of the time and he looked in good rhythm. Against England in Dambulla, he picked up 5/44 and showed glimpses of his past prowess where he could bowl yorkers at will in the death overs.
Malinga’s elevation comes at a time when Sri Lanka are suffering a massive downturn in ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals. They have not won a bilateral series in the whole year and suffered a 3-1 series loss to England recently. Dinesh Chandimal and Angelo Mathews have both been axed as skippers and with both players suffering from lack of confidence and form, Malinga has been chosen as the skipper.
It was under Malinga that Sri Lanka achieved their last victory in a major ICC event. In the 2014 World T20 held in Bangladesh, Malinga took over the captaincy after Chandimal had suffered a slump in his confidence and in his batting. He led the side and helped Sri Lanka beat India in the final of the World T20 to win the title for the first time.
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Sri Lanka are currently playing a two-Test series against New Zealand. After that, there will be a three-match ODI series which will begin on January 3, followed by a one-off T20I on 11 January.
Sri Lanka ODI and T20I squad
Lasith Malinga (c), Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Angelo Mathews, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Dinesh Chandimal, Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara