Following a match in which he suggested he was once again death-bowling force to be reckoned with, Lasith Malinga delivered the rhetoric fans have come to expect from him. He was disappointed his 5 for 44 did not result in a Sri Lanka win. He made snide comments about having been left out for a year, only to take 10 wickets in four games upon his return. He also seemed to suggest Sri Lanka’s selectors could drop him again at any time.
But in between the regular Malinga gripes and cliches, there were also hints about his playing future. He wants to play the 2019 World Cup. He has made peace with the likelihood it will be his last.
“I feel that if I get the chance to play the World Cup, I will,” he said. “It will be my last World Cup. I’m not expecting to get the chance, given the kinds of things that have happened to me over the recent past. But I will take it if it is given.”
Malinga’s road back into the ODI team was an unusual one. He missed the domestic provincial one-day tournament earlier this year, choosing instead to work as a bowling consultant with Mumbai Indians. If the selectors had stuck by their own policy, this should probably have ruled him out of the 50-over format. But they were willing to accept that he had played well enough in the Canada Global T20 tournament, and in SLC’s own T20 provincial competition, to earn a place in the ODI squad.
Four games in, it feels as if Malinga has never been away. Vitally, he is also packing some decent pace. He breached 140kph several times during his spell on Saturday, as he had also done at the Asia Cup last month.
“The selectors are entitled to make those decisions,” Malinga said. “I’m just a player. My only job is to play when I get the chance. When I was out of the team, I went and played in Canada. I also played the district competition and got the highest wickets. Thanks to those performances I got another chance at this level. Because I’m nearing the end of my career I’m motivated to get wickets.”