Malinga is fitter and hungrier – Hathurusingha

Lasith Malinga and Chandika Hathurusinghe

Sri Lanka Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingha has backed fast bowler Lasith Malinga to deliver during the Asia Cup after his selection into the 16 member squad created debate. Although the 35-year-old played the recent SLC Super League T-20 tournament, questions were asked whether someone can be picked for a 50 over competition going by his form in T-20 cricket. Malinga has not represented Sri Lanka in more than a year in any form of cricket and struggled in his last ODI series in August last year against India.

“You have not seen Malinga playing 50 over cricket, but we have worked on his fitness and workload. We are happy with the way he bowled in the T-20s. We know what he can do and obviously he is experienced. He is fitter than what I saw in January. He is bowling better than what I saw in January,” Hathurusingha told The Island yesterday after the national cricket team’s last training session at RPS.

“Specifically for these two games against Bangladesh and Afghanistan, he can be a handful. Anyone who has not played him and if they are playing him for the first time it is going to be tough to face. I am banking on him against Afghanistan and against Bangladesh. Those are very important games for us to get into the next round. Malinga has a big role to play,” Hathurusingha said.

Malinga was surprisingly overlooked for the Nidahas Trophy T-20 tournament that involved India and Bangladesh in March and more recently was not picked for the one off T-20 Intentional against South Africa. Turning down an opportunity to play domestic cricket was held against Malinga, but the moment he played the recent domestic tournament, he became eligible again.

“That is the right thing to do. The game is bigger than anybody. My philosophy is to treat everybody the same. What you have done in the past is good for Sri Lankan cricket. What we are looking at is whether they can contribute for the progress of the game.”

Sri Lanka will leave for Dubai today and will play the curtain-raiser of the competition against Bangladesh on Saturday.

“The last two days we worked on match scenarios. How we approach stuff and what to expect from the opposition. We tried to create that environment. We are expecting left arm quicks to be on show during the tournament, so we trained against that type of bowling. The most important thing is understand and anticipate what we are going to get.”

(Source: The Island – By Rex Clementine)