Sri Lanka could be without their most deadly fast bowler at next year’s World Cup as Lasith Malinga faces a race to recover to full fitness following ankle surgery.
The right-arm seamer is having surgery on Monday (22nd September) to rectify a long-term injury, and then is expected to be out of action for around 16 weeks.
Sri Lanka play New Zealand in the inaugural game of the 2015 cricket World Cup on February 14th and Malinga has urged his country to prepare for the eventuality that he might miss the whole tournament.
With his surgery taking place in Melbourne, the 31-year-old is down under several months ahead of schedule. The fast bowler underwent a CT scan in the Australian city at the weekend before entering the operating theatre.
According to Sri Lanka physio Steve Mount, the aim of the operation is to “clean up” his ankle joint, which has been causing him a lot of pain for some time now.
If all goes to plan with the surgery then it is estimated that he could be back in full training by the middle of January, giving him a few weeks to find his bowling rhythm prior to the start of the tournament.
Malinga is expected to spend around 10 days recovering from the operation in Australia before he returns home to Sri Lanka.
It would be a big blow to Sri Lanka’s hopes of emulating their 1996 World Cup-winning triumph. With 271 wickets to his name, Malinga is now ranked in the top 20 all-time ODI bowlers.
His raw pace and aptitude as a death bowler make him one of the most feared opponents on the international stage.
Malinga’s absence from the Sri Lankan bowling attack makes it weaker for sure, so they will be hoping that he can recover in time for the tournament. A seven-match ODI series against New Zealand takes place next January, which will serve as a warm-up for the World Cup, but he might not be risked in those fixtures.
At 31 years of age, Dhammika Prasad has played in too many international fixtures – having won 15 Test and 15 ODI caps – but he could be entrusted with the new ball next spring.
The right-arm seamer took two wickets as Sri Lanka wrapped up a series victory against Pakistan with a seven-wicket success at the end of August.
However, it may transpire that they heavily rely on their intimidating spin attack instead. At present, their two highest ranked ODI bowlers – Rangana Herath and Sachithra Senanayake – are both spinners.