Thursday, 06 February 2020 06:58

We are not prepared to give Malinga and open cheque – chief selector

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With West Indies due to arrive in Sri Lanka on February 10 for an ODI and T20I series starting later this month, the question mark over the T20I captaincy will once again surface with present skipper Lasith Malinga under tremendous pressure from all quarters to retain his post.

Malinga’s captaincy came into focus after Sri Lanka were drubbed 0-3 by India and suffering a similar thrashing at the hands of Australia.

Chairman of selectors Ashantha de Mel said that they would discuss the captaincy issue once the team returns from Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe Test series ended last month and the team has returned to Colombo and De Mel said that the selection committee would sit down to pick the ODI and T20I teams for the West Indies series as soon as the head coach Mickey Arthur returns from Dubai on February 8.

Malinga had a poor series in India where he went wicketless conceding 81 runs off 8 overs.

“That is something that we will have to look at. Maybe he had two bad games, but overall we have to have someone who can bowl, then you have to look at his captaincy and whether he is doing his job. You can’t blame the captain for all the faults the team makes. We have to assess all those things. We have to see whether there is a suitable captain also,” said De Mel.

“A captain has to find a place in the team. Sometimes it may be a situation where we might have to make a decision after consulting with the coaches, their plans and all that,” he said.

Since Malinga was reappointed captain in January 2019 Sri Lanka has lost 10 T20Is and won just one.

The big questions facing the selectors and the coach are:

Do they need Malinga as a player at the age of 36? And,

With Sri Lanka having to qualify for a place at the next T20 World Cup Super 12s in Australia competing with teams like Ireland, Oman and Papua New Guinea, can the former World T20 champs go into the qualifier without their most experienced white ball bowler?

It’s a call that the selectors and the coach will have to make.

For Sri Lanka, qualifying for a place in the T20 World Cup Super 12 is of utmost importance, failure to do so would be a total disaster for a country that is so passionate with the game.

There have been calls to make all-rounder Dasun Shanaka the T20I captain following his success in Pakistan where Sri Lanka swept the series 3-0 in the absence of Malinga and a few other senior players who declined to go to Pakistan on the grounds of security concerns.

“They are talking about Dasun Shanaka but he also didn’t perform much,” pointed out De Mel.

After Pakistan, Shanaka’s scores in his next four games have been 17, 1, 7 and 9 against Australia and India being selected in the side mainly as a batsman.

One thing is for sure if Malinga is given another opportunity to captain he will certainly be told to pull his socks up and deliver.

“We are not prepared to give Malinga and open cheque,” said De Mel.

The selectors are facing a dilemma not only with the captaincy but with the rest of the players who are also not contributing towards the team’s success.

Dimuth Karunaratne who led Sri Lanka in the 2019 World Cup and in the successful home series against Bangladesh is expected to retain the ODI captaincy for the three match series against West Indies which starts at the SSC on February 22.

The two-match T20I series will start at Pallekele on March 2.

Prior to the commencement of the two series West Indies will be involved in two warm-up games on February 17 and 20 at the P Sara Oval and at Katunayake respectively.

(Daily news)

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