Return to domestic cricket for national selection, SLC warns Malinga

Malinga, who last played for the Islanders more than seven months ago, in the home series against India, was not retained by Mumbai Indians, ahead of the 2018 season.

Lasith Malinga went unsold at the IPL auction and then opted for a stint as a mentor for the Mumbai Indians franchise.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) selectors are reportedly upset with pacer Lasith Malinga for apparently wasting his time as bowling mentor of the Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai Indians and issued the 34-year-old an ultimatum to return home to play domestic cricket if he intended to be recalled to the national side.

Malinga, who last played for the Islanders more than seven months ago, in the home series against India, was not retained by Mumbai Indians, ahead of the 2018 season. He went unsold at the IPL auction and then opted for a stint as a mentor for the Mumbai Indians franchise.

Malinga was named for Sri Lanka’s domestic Inter-Provincial one-day tournament, but prior to the announcement of the squads, which gets underway on Wednesday, Malinga posted a video message declining to play any domestic cricket until the IPL was over.

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In the video, he had mentioned that he was ready to make an international comeback during the home series against South Africa, in July.

“The selectors will have to make a call in case Lasith doesn’t play any domestic cricket,” SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala was quoted as saying by a leading Indian cricketing website, on Tuesday.

“I do believe that we can make use of him for T20 Internationals. We wouldn’t have had any problem had he been playing matches at the IPL, but the issue is that he is on the bench,” remarked Sumathipala.

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SLC CEO Ashley de Silva warned Malinga that his refusal to play in the domestic tournament may shut the door on his international selection.

“We have informed Lasith that he has been selected. If he doesn’t play the Inter-Provincial tournament, it is unlikely that the selectors will consider him,” de Silva said.

Since his return from injury, the fast bowler has taken just 10 wickets in 13 ODIs. South Africa will play five ODIs and a T20 International during its five-week tour of Sri Lanka, which kicks off with a two-match Test series.