Sri Lanka pick Malinga for Champions Trophy

“Match fitness is what he’s lacking now – his physical fitness is superb”

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Veteran pace bowler Lasith Malinga found a spot in Sri Lanka’s squad for the Champions Trophy in England in June.

Malinga has not played ODI cricket since November 2015 and his career as of late has been hindered by a long-standing knee injury.

However, Malinga did return for the recent Twenty20 series against Australia and Bangladesh, against whom he took a hat-trick.

While the national selectors are confident that the 33-year-old will be fit enough to bowl 10 overs and field for 50 by the start of the tournament, Sri Lanka will no doubt be sweating over the seamer as last year, he withdrew from the World Twenty20 the week before the tournament began.

“Malinga has got his medical clearance to bowl 10 overs, since about two weeks ago,” Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala said. “We need to build him up to bowl 10 overs now.

“He’s playing in the IPL, which is to our advantage, because he’s in a top-class cricketing environment and he’s practising. Right now we are getting reports that he’s going into eight overs in a spell. We have to make sure he’s fit to bowl 10 by about the 10th of May.

“Match fitness is what he’s lacking now – his physical fitness is superb. We are looking for Malinga to be fit to play the practice games before the tournament – it’s very important for him to play those games.”

Meanwhile, all-rounder Angelo Mathews is set to be fit for the Champions Trophy and resume his duties as captain after taking a prolonged break to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered in a Twenty20 International against South Africa in January.

Opening batsman Upul Tharanga, who led the side in Mathews’ absence, also made the cut, along with fellow batsmen Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera and Chamara Kapugedara.

In regards to the bowling line-up, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera and Nuwan Pradeep will make up the pace attack, while Seekkuge Prasanna and Lakshan Sandakan are the two spinners that have been chosen.

Sri Lanka’s Champions Trophy Squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna.

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