Malinga steps down, Mathews to lead Sri Lanka
Defending champion brings in Thirimanne, Lakmal for World T20 as Vandersay and Dickwella go out
08 March 2016 13:05
DHAKA, BANGLADESH - APRIL 06: Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Mahela Jayawardena and Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka celebrate winning the World Twenty20 Final against India during the ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 Final between India and Sri Lanka at Sher-e-Bangla Mirpur Stadium on April 6, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Photo by Matthew Lewis-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)
Malinga, who led Sri Lanka to the ICC World T20 title in Bangladesh in 2014, was man of the match in his team’s only win at the Asia Cup, against UAE with figures of 4 for 26, but sat out the three remaining games in a continuation of a miserable run of injuries that has seen him miss a host of games in the last year.
The move to make Mathews the captain comes following a voluntary offer from the premier fast bowler to stand down following concerns over his slow recovery from injury. On Sunday (March 6), Malinga had written to Sri Lanka Cricket expressing his desire to relinquish captaincy duties, given his constant struggles with injury.
Mohan de Silva, vice-president of Sri Lanka Cricket, confirmed that the paceman had offered to step down on Sunday evening. "He is stepping down only from captaincy," de Silva said. "He has offered himself for selection only after (March) 15 because he is undergoing some treatment here in Sri Lanka."
Sri Lanka’s first match in the Super 10s is against the qualifier from Group B of the competition, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on March 17. The other teams in Sri Lanka’s group are West Indies, England and South Africa.
Apart from the change in captaincy, the defending champion has made two other changes to the 15-man squad for the tournament announced last month. Lahiru Thirimanne, the experienced left-hand batsman, and Suranga Lakmal, the fast bowler, come in at the expense of Jeffrey Vandersay, the legspinning allrounder, and Niroshan Dickwella, the wicketkeeper-batsman.
Sri Lanka has endured a poor run in T20I cricket since last November, winning just 3 of 11 games played while drawing a two-match series at home against West Indies, losing away to New Zealand and India, and then managing a solitary victory in four games at the Asia Cup.