Hathurusingha keeps door open for suspended players



As long as what the selectors want is fulfilled, Malinga is in our plans: Hathurusinghe © Getty

As Sri Lanka look to salvage pride in the fifth and final ODI of the five-match series against South Africa, a series they had lost by the end of the third match itself, head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has kept doors open for three of their cricketers – Danushka Gunathilaka, Jeffrey Vandersay and Lasith Malinga – despite them having rubbed the authorities the wrong side on disciplinary account.

Sri Lanka, who have lost 30 of the 48 matches they have played in the past 12 months, look far from being settled ahead of the 50-over World Cup next year.

Gunathilaka is serving a six-match ban owing to a breach of Players’ Code of Conduct and Contractual Obligation. Vandersay was handed a one-year suspension after he went missing for a whole night having gone to a night club while at St. Lucia. Malinga has run out of favour since choosing to render his services to the Mumbai Indians at the 2018 IPL over playing in the country’s domestic inter-provincial one-day tournament.

In the first show of encouragement for the troika, Hathurusingha threw open an invite for the players, although issuing a stern caution that the team culture is of prime importance to them.

“I am very disappointed that these kinds of things happened,” Hathurusingha said. “But at the same time this has been something that has been happening in the past. Our culture is so different. We don’t tolerate this. It is not that he is letting down one person or two persons; he is letting down the whole team and his family. At the same time, people do mistakes. We need to give them second chance. They have not done a crime. It is just the team rules that they have broken. They will be back.”

Malinga, of course, played the domestic T20 competition, trying to remain in the fray for national selection. However, the damages incurred from missing the one-day competition prior to that seem to be still fresh in the minds of the management as Malinga’s stellar performance in the T20 tournament didn’t seem to have done enough to negate those damages.

“As long as what the selectors want is fulfilled, Malinga is in our plans,” Hathurusingha mentioned. “He needs to come and play domestic cricket and we are not going to make exceptions for anybody. The team is number one. The team culture has to be protected. We are not treating him differently. He is a quality player. He needs to show that he is capable of delivering what he has done in the past. Not only with bowling, but fielding as well.

“There’s a good opportunity for him to come and play the domestic T20 tournament if he is willing to play. If he is performing he is in our plans.”

Sri Lanka will play in the Asia Cup next and it would be interesting to see the combinations they field, especially after a torrid ODI series against the Proteas at home.

© Cricbuzz

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