Lasith Malinga will be one of the World Cup’s oldest players but the Sri Lanka paceman shows no signs of slowing down as he bids to prove his critics wrong.
Sri Lanka’s selectors, led by former fast bowler Ashantha de Mel, said Malinga was unable to unite the team, while he was also accused of falling out with other senior players.
That hammer blow reportedly prompted Malinga to consider retirement, but he opted to stay on after being named in the World Cup squad.
The 35-year-old recently reminded the world of his enduring qualities when he claimed 16 wickets for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.
He produced a sensational final over in the Twenty20 final against Chennai Super Kings to hand Mumbai a record fourth IPL title.
Malinga frequently hits speeds of over 86 miles-per-hour (138 kph), while his devastating slower balls were in evidence during the IPL, a welcome sign for embattled Sri Lanka ahead of the World Cup in England and Wales, which starts on May 30.
With several inexperienced bowlers in Sri Lanka’s squad, Malinga, with 322 ODI wickets to his name, is expected to be the cutting edge to the team’s attack.
Once he got over the shock of losing the captaincy, Malinga’s appetite for the game returned as he shuttled between Sri Lanka and India to play in the domestic tournament and fulfil his IPL commitments.
Malinga was Sri Lanka’s captain when it won the 2014 World T20 title with a host of stalwarts by his side including Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan.
But following the retirement of Sri Lanka’s big guns, a new crop of players made their way into the side, a group selector De Mel believes did not fully back the quick bowler as skipper.