Pace bowler Lasith Malinga has become such an invaluable asset to the Sri Lankan side that the selectors are reluctant to risk playing him in the upcoming Tests against the touring West Indies. Considered the most incisive of Sri Lanka's premier bowlers in one-dayers along with Muttiah Muralitharan, Malinga was left out of the squad for the first Test against the Windies at Galle, which begins on Monday. He may not even be taken on for the rest of the series because selectors could want to keep him fresh and fit for the World Cup which begins in February next year.
Captain Jayawardene pointed to a niggling knee injury as the reason why Maling might be rested. "With the injury he has, it could easily come back," Mahela Jayawardene said. "It's a very rare injury on the knee and him playing three Tests against West Indies would definitely hamper him. I don't think we'll risk playing him in Test cricket just before the World Cup. The selectors [will] probably play him in a few of the one-dayers against West Indies."
Malinga, whose made a name for himself for his unique slinging action, is the third highest wicket-taker in Tests for his country with 101 wickets from 30 Tests at an average of 33.15. In the last Test series Sri Lanka played at home against India, Malinga played in the first and third Test and was rested for the second. He played a big role in Sri Lanka's historic 2-1 one-day series victory in Australia earlier this month, winning the Man-of-the-Series award for an all-round performance.
"We've got enough ammunition now with Dilhara [Fernando] and Dammika [Prasad] who bowled really well in Australia, Thilan Thushara coming back from injury and playing in the three-day game, and [Chanaka] Welegedara as well," Jayawardene said. "Plus, the two young boys, Suranga Lakmal and Nuwan Pradeep, who bowled really well with the A team. It's a great opportunity for these guys to show what they are capable of."
Jayawardene said that after the World Cup, Sri Lanka will have to determine whether it could play Malinga in Test matches depending on his responsibilities. "We'll have to monitor him and Lasith could think why risk bowling a lot and get injured again and be out for a year and a half. It's a career-threatening injury where he might not be able to bowl again. It's a bit too early for us to totally write him off from Test cricket but we have to manage him, that's how I would put it."