Sri Lanka’s Malinga pulls out of virus-hit IPL

Lasith Malinga

Veteran Sri Lanka paceman Lasith Malinga has pulled out of the Indian Premier League “to be with his family”, his team said Wednesday, adding to growing list of players abandoning the coronavirus-hit Twenty20 tournament.

Malinga has asked to be let go for personal reasons the Mumbai Indians said, while also announcing he would be replaced by Australian quick James Pattinson.

“James Pattinson will join MI Family currently based in Abu Dhabi this weekend,” current champions Mumbai said in a statement.

The much-delayed IPL has been moved to the United Arab Emirates because of the spread of the coronavirus in India and is scheduled to start on September 19.

“There is no denying the fact that we will miss Lasith’s cricketing acumen this season,” Mumbai team owner Akash Ambani said.

“However, we fully understand Lasith’s need to be in Sri Lanka with his family during this time.”

The 37-year-old has been with the Mumbai team — record four-time IPL winners — since the inaugural edition in 2008.

Other players who have opted out of the tournament include England’s Jason Roy, of the Delhi Capitals, and Suresh Raina, who quit the Chennai Super Kings after two players tested positive for coronavirus despite teams being kept in strict “bio-bubbles”.

Eleven other support staff and officials from the Chennai team also tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies.

Raina said he did not want to take any chances.

“I have a family with two little kids and elderly parents,” Raina told Indian magazine Outlook.

“For me returning to the family was more important.”

Australian Kane Richardson, who was due to play for the Royals Challengers Bangalore, has also pulled out to attend the birth of his first child.

The IPL has not yet released a fixture list for the league, which runs through to November 10.