Sri Lanka change skip­per ahead of T20 ti­tle de­fence

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Sri Lanka said La­sith Malinga was step­ping down as cap­tain of their World Twenty20 side Tues­day af­ter the team's dis­as­trous Asia Cup show­ing, with An­gelo Mathews to skip­per the team in In­dia.

The an­nounce­ment comes only hours af­ter Sri Lanka's Sports Min­is­ter Dayasiri Jayasekera sacked the panel of se­lec­tors and ap­pointed a new line-up headed by for­mer player Aravinda de Silva. In a press con­fer­ence in Colombo, Jayasekera con­firmed that in­jury-plagued Malinga was also be­ing re­placed, but the pres­i­dent of the Sri Lankan board in­sisted it was the vet­eran fast bowler's own de­ci­sion.

"Last night we fi­nalised the new squad and in­formed the ICC (In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil). We have ap­pointed Mathews as cap­tain and (Di­nesh) Chandi­mal as vice-cap­tain," said Jayasekera. "Malinga will be the 15th in the squad," he told re­porters ahead of the team's de­par­ture for In­dia later Tues­day.

Malinga presided over a dis­mal show­ing by Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup where they were beaten by the hosts, lit­tle-fan­cied Bangladesh, and only just scraped past the United Arab Emi­rates.

While Sri Lanka won the last World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in 2014, the team has been badly weak­ened by the re­tire­ments of star bats­men Ku­mar San­gakkara and Ma­hela Jayawar­dene. They are eighth in the T20 rank- ings and few com­men­ta­tors have given them much hope of suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing their ti­tle in the sixth edi­tion of the for­mat's world cham­pi­onship which be­gins later Tues­day in In­dia.

Malinga, who has been strug­gling with a knee in­jury, only played one match in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh where he hinted that he was con­sid­er­ing re­tire­ment.

The 32-year-old has a long his­tory of in­jury prob­lems and gave up Test cricket in 2010 as he was un­able to with­stand the rigours of five-day matches. Thi­langa Su­math­ipala, pres­i­dent of Sri Lanka Cricket, told re­porters that he hoped Malinga would be able to bowl in In­dia but he was cool about his chances of play­ing a full part.

"He opted to of­fer to step down as cap­tain. We have kept him in the squad so that he can play at least one match in the tour­na­ment," said Su­math­ipala, who in­sisted Sri Lanka could cause an up­set in In­dia.

"We still be­lieve we have a very good chance of win­ning the world cup with this com­bi­na­tion," he said. "I think we still have a good chance of com­ing back as the cham­pion T20 team." All-rounder Mathews is al­ready the cap­tain of the Sri Lankan Test side, which is also strug­gling to cope since the de­par­ture of Jayawar­dene and San­gakkara, who has been ap­pointed as a selec­tor. San­gakkara said al­though the Sri Lanka squad was fi­nalised only a few hours be­fore the team left for In­dia, it should not be an is­sue. -

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