Veteran fast bowler and one-day captain of Sri Lanka Lasith Malinga has been given permission by Sri Lanka Cricket to play in the ongoing IPL for Mumbai Indians but the final choice lies with him whether he wants to play in India or in the SLC provincial 50-over tournament which is being used as a guideline for World Cup selection.
Malinga who led Sri Lanka in the ODI and T20I series is due to return from South Africa today with the rest of the team and chief selector Ashantha de Mel said that he would have a chat with him and find out what his plans are now that he has been given the option of playing in the IPL also.
“At the time of the IPL auction the provincial tournament was not on, so since Malinga has been given the NOC (No Objection Certificate) the Indian Cricket Board has asked SLC to allow him to play for Mumbai Indians,” said De Mel.
“The SLC has given Malinga an NOC but he told me he likes to play in the provincial tournament, so he has to get clearance from Mumbai Indians. The provincial tournament is only for a week. We haven’t heard anything yet from Malinga but I am meeting him for a short while tomorrow and have a chat and see exactly what he wants to do.
“Anyway selection regarding Malinga it doesn’t affect because we are selecting him on his performance upto the South African tour. Since he has been given an NOC even if he doesn’t play in the provincial it doesn’t make a difference. The selection part is not the issue, the issue is whether he wants to play in the provincial and if so depending on the Mumbai Indians whether they would realease him,” he said.
Malinga has been named as captain of Galle, one of the four teams competing in the provincial limited overs tournament which is scheduled to be held in Dambulla and Pallekele from April 4-11. In the event of him going to play in the IPL a new captain has to be named for the Galle side.
SLC president Shammi Silva said that they have released Malinga to play in the IPL because the standard of cricket played there is high.
“If he plays in the IPL we can see how he is going to lead the players and it is good for our preparations also. He is the only Sri Lankan who has got the contract to play in IPL so we have given him permission,” said Silva.
“Earlier we had a doubt about him playing matches in the IPL we thought he will play like last time one or two matches and he will be on the bench. We told the Indian Board that we will release him but he has to play a substantial number of matches then only we can consider him for the World Cup.
“Unlike the last time Malinga is also fit and he will play better cricket there under pressure with all the top players in the world. Mumbai Indians said that they are going to play him in about 7-8 matches out of the 14 or 15 but I think he will play more than that because Mumbai Indians’ key bowler Jasprit Bumrah is injured,” he said.
Malinga who has turned out for Mumbai Indians since 2009 is the IPL’s leading wicket-taker with 154 wickets from 110 matches at an average of 19.01 and an economy rate of 6.86 runs per over.