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21 May 2024

Malinga steps down as Sri Lanka captain ahead of World T20

By Agencies

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 sacked the country's cricket selectors and appointed a new panel headed by former player Aravinda de Silva.

"Angelo Mathews is going to be captain and (Dinesh) Chandimal will be vice-captain," Mohan de Silva, secretary of the Sri Lanka cricket board, told reporters in Colombo.

"Malinga will be in the squad. He is only stepping down from the captaincy, but he has offered himself for selection after the 15th (start of the group stage) because he is undergoing some treatment here."

Veteran fast bowler 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 since by the retirements of star batsmen Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.

They are eighth in the T20 rankings 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.

All-rounder Mathews is already the captain of the Sri Lankan Test side, which is also struggling to cope with the impact of Sangakkara and Jayawardene's departure.

Sri Lanka are due to begin their defence of the World Twenty20 trophy on Wednesday, March 17, when they play one of the two minnows who are taking part in a prelimary round taking place this week.