Malinga Bandara was earmarked from an early age as a legspinner of great potential. On the basis of his school performances he was selected for the Under-19 tour to India in 1997, the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, and the Sri Lanka A tour to England in 1999.
In between, he made his Test debut against New Zealand in 1998-99 but looked all at sea in a disappointing display and did not come into consideration after that. But a match haul of 11 for 126 against England A in March 2005 confirmed his growing confidence and also helped attract the attention of Gloucestershire as they looked for a replacement for Upal Chandana.
Bandara, like Chandana, is also a useful lower order batsman.