Malinga likely to play next two matches for Mumbai Indians

On Monday, Sri Lanka’s chief selector, Ashantha de Mel told Sportstar that the pacer could play the IPL if he wants to.

Lasith Malinga played the final Twenty20 International against South Africa on Sunday (March 24), while Mumbai Indians plays its second match on March 28 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Sri Lanka pace ace, Lasith Malinga, could well be available for the next couple of Indian Premier League (IPL) fixtures for Mumbai Indians.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had earlier announced that only those players would be eligible for selection in the World Cup squad, who would compete in Super Provincial One-Day domestic tournament, slated from April 4 to 11.

That made Malinga doubtful for the IPL. But on Monday, Sri Lanka’s chief selector, Ashantha de Mel told Sportstar that the pacer could play the IPL if he wants to. “The SLC has already issued him an No Objection Certificate, so he is cleared for the IPL. Now, it’s up to him to decide,” Mel said from Colombo.

READ: Mumbai Indians to discuss Malinga's IPL participation with Sri Lanka board

But why did the Sri Lanka board soften its stance on the participation of the veteran pacer in a domestic ODI tournament?

Mel said that since the Board had given a no-objection certificate (NOC) to Malinga long ago, it is not necessary for him to feature in the tournament. “He was cleared for the IPL long back, and this tournament was scheduled recently. So, we have decided to allow him for the IPL,” he said.

Malinga, who is currently in South Africa with the national team, will reach Colombo on Tuesday and Mel plans to speak to him. “Since he has been named captain of one of the teams, I need to know his decision. If he decides to go for the IPL then we will name a new captain,” Mel said.

If things fall in place, Malinga could join the Mumbai Indians camp latest by Wednesday. However, there’s no word from the franchise yet.

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Mel said the players were asked to participate in the domestic tournament to ensure fair play. “We did not want cases where players did not want to participate here and hoped for direct qualification to World Cup squad. To ensure fairness, we had asked all of them to play the league. But Malinga’s case is different,” Mel said.

The news of Malinga’s participation could boost Mumbai Indians’ confidence as it aims to register its first win of the tournament after losing to Delhi Capitals on Sunday.

The three-time champion will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab in back-to-back away games on Thursday and Saturday.