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Post Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka bowling has a mountain to scale

Bengaluru, July 23: Lasith Malinga’s retirement is a curious little instance. He had turned up as the mentor for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but returned as the player again.

In March 2016, he had quit from all forms of cricket but was back again in 2017. He also became the captain of Sri Lanka early this year and was expected to be the skipper of his side in the recently concluded World Cup in England. But it was Dimuth Karunaratne who took over eventually.

The unique-actioned pacer is now set to retire again from ODIs after the first game of the upcoming three-game series against Bangladesh at home on Friday. It will certainly be a torrid time for the Islanders who have struggled to maintain a minimum form in international cricket, thanks to lack of influencing talents on the field.

Malinga, who turns 36 next month, took 13 wickets from seven matches in the World Cup with the best of 4 for 43 against England that Sri Lanka had won.

Malinga has played in 30 Tests, 225 ODIs and 73 T20Is taking a total of 533 international wickets. He also has scored two half-centuries in Tests and ODIs, respectively.

Who takes up the baton after Malinga?

Malinga’s exit will be a big blow for Sri Lanka. He was the best bowler for the Sri Lankans at the World Cup as the next best Isuru Udana had only six scalps in seven games. Karunaratne has admitted that Sri Lanka has struggled to find wicket-taking bowlers and Malinga’s exit will expose that even further.

Sri Lanka were never as potent bowling attack as some other sides in world cricket and were over dependent on the likes of Muttiah Muralidharan and Chaminda Vaas for a long time. But now, it seems they will be in a serious spot in rediscovering their bowling attack, both pace and spin.

Nuwan Pradeep, who took five wickets in three outings could be the next spearhead but he has been far too much hit by injuries.

Karunaratne has stressed about nurturing new talents in the next four years before Sri Lanka play the 2023 World Cup in the sub-continent but that is certainly a humongous task for a team which has found itself seriously starved of skills.

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Story first published: Tuesday, July 23, 2019, 17:26 [IST]
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