In what would have seemed an unthinkable move a few years ago, IPL side Mumbai Indians are set to release their premier fast bowler in history, Lasith Malinga, for the IPL auctions, the Indian media reported.
With the teams likely to be allowed to retain a maximum of three players, the IPL 2017 winners are unwilling to keep hold of Malinga, considering the fact that the Sri Lankan speedster has looked out of form and also faced issues regarding his fitness off late.
Mumbai Indians though will still have the option to pick the 34-year-old during the player auctions - a move the franchise is not ruling out.
"As per the rules, Every team can preserve maximum four to five players, Mumbai Indians team management is on the opinion to release the Slinga Malinga," a source, close to Mumbai Indians told Cricket Age.
"The Mumbai Indians can also buy him back, but as far as the auction is concerned, it looks like Lasith Malinga will find himself in the pool of players up for grabs" the source revealed further.
Malinga is the most successful bowler in IPL history with 154 wickets from 110 matches and played a key role in Mumbai Indians victorious campaigns in 2013 and 2015 picking up 20 and 24 wickets respectively.
However, Malinga was off-colour in the 2017 IPL campaign picking up just 11 wickets from 12 matches as well conceding runs at an expensive 8.84 runs an over.
While there is no doubt that Malinga is by far the most successful bowler in IPL history, be it with his wicket-taking abilities or his death-overs bowling, the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and New Zealand's Mitchell McClenaghan has established themselves as the Mumbai franchise's first-choice bowlers ahead of the Sri Lankan.
Malinga may be head and shoulders above the rest with his enviable IPL record, but there is no denying that the Sri Lankan speedster has lost the pace and the ability to bowl yorkers consistently that had made him one of the toughest bowlers to face in the T20 format.
Age has caught up with the right-arm pacer and an unwillingness to look after his body has played a part in his downfall as a bowler while also leading to many run-ins with the Sri Lankan cricket administration.
It is hardly a surprise that Mumbai Indians has decided to let go off Malinga though they still have the option to pick him up at the auctions at a considerably lower price.