Wellington, Feb 9: Sri Lanka fast bowler Lasith Maliga has declared himself fit to play against New Zealand in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup on Saturday.
An ankle injury prevented Maliga from playing in Sri Lanka's seven-match one-day series against New Zealand in the lead-up to the world tournament but he told reporters Sunday he is ready to return. Malinga is likely to play in Sri Lanka's World Cup warm-up matches against South Africa in Christchurch on Monday and Zimbabwe on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said Malinga was "back to full fitness. He's doing everything 100 per cent, he'll be 100 per cent for the games."
Maliga was less emphatic, saying "I'm getting used to the pain because I really want to play in this World Cup. If there's pain, it doesn't matter. I want to play. ... I'm not sure of the pace and how that's going, but I've got good rhythm and a good run up."
Malinga has been described as the best death bowler in world cricket and his return substantially strengthens Sri Lanka, who were beaten 4-2 in the series against New Zealand.
Mathews said, "Lasith has the X-factor" which could swing the World Cup opener in Sri Lanka's favor. Malinga said he wasn't concerned that Sri Lanka was investing so much hope in his return. "Honestly, I don't know what the pressure means," he said.
"I'm used to all the pressure situations. I have a free mindset and I just want to do what I can do."