The poor form displayed by Sri Lanka Twenty20 captain Lasith Malinga in the five-match One-Day International series and the two Twenty20 Internationals against Pakistan has been put down to a technical flaw in his bowling.
Malinga, one of the best fast bowlers around in the limited overs format of the game took only four wickets in four ODIs at a cost of 61.50 and an economy rate of 6.64 and, two wickets in the two T20Is conceding 86 runs at a staggering economy rate of 10.75.
“Lasith is still considered the best T20 bowler in the world though he did have a rough patch,” said chairman of selectors Kapila Wijegunawardene.
“He’s got a technical flaw. He needs to work out his timing because as we all know he is one of the most accurate bowlers you can come across, but he appears to have lost the accuracy during the last ODI and T20I series. It does happen to players and I am sure he will know what to do and work on those technical areas with the coaches and come back strong.”
Commenting on 31-year-old Malinga’s fitness, Wijegunawardene said: “He can be fitter but the biggest drawback he faced was some sort of a technical flaw in his delivery stride that was probably the reason why his accuracy was not the usual we see from him.
“Like a batsman going out of form bowlers also at times lose their timing. Fast bowling is about rhythm, balance and timing. He appears to have lost the timing part of it and it’s a matter of working on it and regaining that,” said Wijegunawardene, a former fast bowler who represented his country in 2 Tests and 26 ODIs in the nineties.
“Lasith still has a lot of cricket left in him and he is one of the most successful bowlers for us. Ageing is common to all of us so he will need to look after his fitness levels perhaps work a little harder on his fitness. I am sure being a professional cricketer he understands what areas he needs to work on and I am confident that he will work on them and come back strong.”
Pakistan defeats disappointing but hope for the future
Wijegunawardene said as head of the cricket selection committee he was disappointed that Sri Lanka could not win a single series against Pakistan. Sri Lanka lost the three-match Test series 1-2, the five-match ODI series 2-3 and the two-match T20I series 0-2.
“Naturally we are disappointed that we couldn’t win a single series in any three formats. We know we are in the midst of a major transition period where two of our key players have retired from the game,” said Wijegunawardene.
“But from the young talent we saw on display we can be encouraged that we got some really exciting players coming through the younger ranks. I am sure they will step up to perform much better in the coming series and the coming year.”
The chief selector rubbished the news item that was circulated amongst some of the electronic and print media that Lasith Malinga was responsible for leaving out batsmen Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne from the two T20Is against Pakistan.
“Decisions are made collectively it’s the selectors who make the decisions, naturally we consult the coaches and the captains. There will be some decisions that we take in the interest of the team and in our quest to work out the best combinations and see who we take for the T20 World Cup,” said Wijegunawardene.
“The youngsters also need to have a platform to show their skills. That was the thinking basically and the real reason which is in total contradiction to what was circulated.”
Asia Cup to be played in T20 format
With the Asia Cup 2016 being played in the T20 format Sri Lanka will get at least another four additional matches to give their young players the experience before the final team for the World T20 is picked.
The World T20 will be held in India from March 11 to April 3 next year and prior to that is scheduled the Asia Cup which in all probability be held in the UAE in the first week of March.
While, no final decision has been made about the host country, it is understood that UAE is the strongest candidate to host the biannual event which is conducted by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).
The tournament is shifting from ODI format to T20 format for the first time since 1984. Sri Lanka are the defending champions. They won the 2014 Asia Cup against Pakistan by five wickets in Bangladesh. Again in 2018 the Asia Cup will revert back to ODI format to prepare for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England. For the 2020 T20 World Cup, the Asia Cup will again switch back to T20 format.
Following the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara from the shortest format, Sri Lanka are in the process of exposing several youngsters in the lead up T20I matches to the World Cup.
This was quite evident during the recently concluded T20I series against Pakistan where six players made their T20I debuts.
With two T20Is each against West Indies (at home) in November and against New Zealand (away) in December and the Asia Cup Sri Lanka will have roughly about another eight T20I matches to give exposure to their youngsters.