Lasith Malinga © AFP
Lasith Malinga © AFP

Sri Lanka cricket’s chairman of selectors, Graeme Labrooy, has asserted that they are eyeing the return of Lasith Malinga for the upcoming T20Is versus Pakistan. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will play five ODIs, followed by three T20Is. Malinga, who has been out of favour in ODIs, has taken only 10 wickets from 13 games ever since his return to international cricket in June. On the other hand, former skipper Angelo Mathews will also join the squad when fully fit.

Labrory told Cricbuzz, “We had a chat to some of the players who did not make this tour and were trying to see what their thinking was and then we shared our thinking. We are trying to bring Lasith (Malinga) back for the T20Is. We still feel that he can contribute in ODIs as long as he is on top of his fitness. We believe that he has got a part to play in our ODI cricket.”

Labrooy further stressed on the significance of fitness in Sri Lanka cricket. “We have stressed on the fitness. There are minimum standards set now. Players now need to get through a yo-yo test within minimum standards and their skin falls has to be less than certain standard. That’s one reason why we are not rushing Mathews. We want him 100 per cent fit with a long Indian tour coming up.”

Sri Lanka became the first side to topple Pakistan in a Test series in UAE. On the victory front, Labrooy said, “I am glad for the boys. They needed the win very badly. Playing away from the pressure back at home must have helped. They struck to their guns and believed in their plans and delivered those wins. I hope they can build on that confidence and take it forward from here.”

Test skipper was vocal in selectors’ role in revamping the side ahead of Pakistan Tests. Labrooy revealed, “We basically told them that once we identify them, we will continue to back them. No point of shoving them in and out. If they were selected to play in a Test match or an ODI, they are good enough and we will continue with the identified lot as long as possible and give them a fair chance of performing rather than letting them play one or two innings and replace them with somebody else. That’s one confidence we gave the team.”

Labrooy further added, “Our ideas is to give them six innings continuously and then they’ve got to fight for their place. If somebody is a middle order batsman, he will remain in the middle order. Just because we want to strengthen the batting, we won’t shuffle the players up and down the order.”