Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga won’t mind walking into the sunset if his team qualifies for the knockout stage at this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia. The only bowler with 100 scalps in T20 Internationals, Malinga had said in March that he could retire after the T20 World Cup scheduled in October-November but later expressed his desire to play for another two years. The pacer, known for his toe-crushing yorkers, said he wants to lead the 2014 T20 champions to at least the knock-out stage at the upcoming edition.
“I’ve already retired from Tests and ODIs. Now whatever is required for SL cricket. If they say it’s enough for me now then I’ll be really happy to retire from T20s also,” Malinga said on the eve of the series-opener against India.
“My only target is to play qualify round in the T20 World Cup. If Sri Lanka qualify for the knockouts, I would never mind retiring anytime after that,” he added.
Talking about the series, Malinga said they would target Indian pacer and his Mumbai Indians colleague Jasprit Bumrah since he is returning from an injury and it is not easy to make a comeback.
“He’s got the skill and accuracy. But coming after the injury when you don’t play much cricket for last four months, the bowlers struggle to get into the rhythm for the first few matches. We want to use that to our advantage.”
“I can pass all the information of his attitude and bowling skill. But batsmen will have to be smart enough to handle him carefully,” he said of the No. 1 bowler in the ODIs.
Leading an inexperienced side, Malinga pointed out that they don’t have the luxury of playing franchise tournaments back home but still they managed to win in 2014, beating India at home.
“We are looking for new start in the New Year. T20 is an unpredictable format. We can’t predict say who’s the best. Anyone can change the momentum in one over. I want to give opportunity to the young players. They are talented, have skill but lack experience. It’s an important series to set the tone for us.”
Taking inspiration from their final win in 2014, Malinga said bowlers can win T20 matches more than the batsmen.
“In this format, the key is to to win the situations and bowlers can win you the matches,” he said recalling how they restricted India to a below-par 130 for four before sealing a six-wicket win.