Sri Lankan News

Malinga sacked as ODI skipper, Sri Lanka named new captain for World Cup

The Sri Lanka Cricket team for the ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in England from May 30 to July 14 will be announced on Thursday, April 18, Asantha de Mel, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Selection Committee said today.

The ICC deadline is April 23 for member countries to officially announce the respective squads that would compete in championship. India’s Board of Cricket, BCCI announced their 15-member squad team yesterday at Mumbai.

The selection committee is currently in the process of nominating the Sri Lankan team. The selectors are expected to consider the performance of the players at the Inter-Provincial Cricket Tournament held recently in Dambulla and Kandy in their selection.

Ahead of the World Cup, Veteran pacer Lasith Malinga was sacked as ODI skipper with Sri Lanka Cricket on Wednesday naming Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne to lead the country at the 50-over World cup in England, beginning on May 30.

“Karunaratne’s appointment was ratified by the Minister of Telecommunications, Foreign Employment and Sports Honorable Harin Fernando,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a release.

Karunaratne to lead Sri Lanka through World Cup. Photo: ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP / Getty Images

The 31-year-old Karunaratne, who didn’t play a single ODI since the 2015 World Cup, has only featured in 17 ODIs and averages 15.83 with a high score of 60. He will replace Malinga, who had captained the team during the 0-5 loss to South Africa in the ODI series.

The left-hander has made waves in Test cricket in recent times, earning selection in the ICC’s Test Team of the Year 2018, and captained Sri Lanka to an historic Test series whitewash in South Africa earlier this year, standing in for Dinesh Chandimal.

Karunaratne, a Test opener, forced himself into the ODI captaincy following his success in the Test arena. He led Sri Lanka to a historic 2-0 Test triumph in South Africa and made Sri Lanka the only Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa.

Malinga, who led Sri Lanka to a World T20 trophy in 2014, had personal disagreements with the team management and certain senior players, which also soured his stint as captain.

Malinga was also understood to have had a poor relationship with several key players.

The other option was Angelo Mathews, who has been Sri Lanka’s ODI captain in two separate stints before. But Mathews is said to have declined the offer to captain citing his disagreements with coach Chandika Hathurusinghe.

Chandimal, Mathews, and Malinga have all captained Sri Lanka’s ODI side recently. Photo: Getty Images

The news will come as a blow for Malinga, who had played a domestic match in Kandy, only 14 hours after playing an IPL match for his franchise Mumbai Indians in Mumbai, earlier this month.

Apart from Malinga and Mathews, Sri Lanka had also tried Dinesh Chandimal and Thisara Perera to lead the side at various stages over the past two years since the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene in 2014. The team’s fortune dwindled as it slipped in ICC rankings in all formats since then.

Sri Lanka’s subsequent 5-0 defeat in the ODIs to South Africa sealed the fate of Malinga’s captaincy, before Karunaratne’s good performances with the bat in the recent Super Four domestic tournament provided some indication that he was a viable choice as a one-day opener.

Although fears about Karunaratne’s batting centred around whether he could score runs quickly enough, he mustered a strike-rate of over 90, as he made 165 runs at an average of 55 through the course of that tournament.

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