In a big boost for the defending champions, Sri Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga has joined the Mumbai Indians squad on Friday (April 15). However, there's no clarity on his fitness or when he is likely to start playing.
The pacer has recently grappled with fitness issues, his absence having its repercussions on Sri Lanka's defence of the recently-concluded Asia Cup and ICC World T20. Malinga featured in just the first game against the UAE in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh, before returning home due to an injury.
He relinquished his captaincy and even travelled to India for the World T20, but couldn't regain fitness and returned home after playing in two warm-up fixtures.
Earlier, there were reports that Sri Lanka Cricket was reluctant to give the pacer a No Objection Certificate (NOC). "He can't go without our permission. If he defies us and goes, he can only return after sitting on the bench," Tilanga Sumathipala, the SLC chief, had said.
Ricky Ponting, the head coach of Mumbai Indians, had acknowledged that the pacer will join the squad after the first two games but will miss the first half of the tournament.
"I believe he will be joining us after the first couple of games to have his fitness assessed," Ponting. "Right now it's unlikely he will take part in the first half of the tournament anyway."
Malinga has played 98 matches in the Indian Premier League picking up 143 wickets at an average of 17.80. He has played seven seasons so far for Mumbai Indians after missing the first season due to an injury. (Cricbuzz)