Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford is keen to have Lasith Malinga beside him when his charges take on South Africa, India and Pakistan during next month’s Champions Trophy.
Malinga returned to action against Australia during the three-match T20 series played in February after a long injury lay-off but is yet to get his usual form back.
Malinga has been out of form this season in the IPL, taking just six wickets so far in his six matches for the Mumbai Indians.
“Even if he doesn’t bowl his full 10 overs, he is a class act setting the tone upfront and finishing the inning off. If we can have the privilege of using him in those areas it will certainly be in good stead,” said Graham Ford at a press conference in Colombo.
“I'm really hoping he's going to be 100 percent fit. Some of the work that he was putting in gave me great confidence. I'm not at all looking at the fact that he may be half-fit or operating on one leg or anything. All the reports I've had are that he’s going really well and I've spoken to Mahela (Jayawardene, coaching the Mumbai Indians) a few times and I think Guru (Asanga Gurusinghe) has spoken to Mahela as well. All the indications are that he is going to give us something special, and what I saw in his attitude in Australia, it really made me feel like he's missed international cricket and he's missed doing wonderful things for Sri Lanka cricket. As time runs out on his international career he's determined to make an impact in this format,” said Ford.
Malinga is among the 15-man squad named for the eight team tournament by the national selectors.
If Malinga makes the tour, which is most likely, he will work with Allan Donald, Sri Lanka’s bowling consultant for the Champions Trophy.
“It’s my first go in the same side with Lasith Malinga. I have seen him destroying attacks especially in one day cricket. It will be nice to work on the same side for a change,” said Donald.
Malinga’s career has been plagued by injuries. He last played an ODI against West Indies in November 2015 in Pallekele.
In 191 matches, Malinga has taken 291 wickets--nine shy of becoming only the fourth Sri Lankan to take 300 or more wickets in ODI cricket. Spin great Muttiah Muralidaran heads the table with 523, followed by fast bowler Chaminda Vaas (399) and Sanath Jayasuriya (320).