Mumbai Indians star bowler Lasith Malinga’s recurring back problem has ruled him out of the Indian Premier League at least for a “couple of weeks” and the bowler has returned to Sri Lanka, a top Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) official confirmed on Friday.
Malinga has struggled with a troublesome back throughout his career and was forced to retire from Test cricket in 2010 to prolong his career, focussing instead on the shorter version.
The Sri Lankan last bowled for the Champions League T20 champions against the Rajasthan Royals on April 11 and has been missing training since.
“Malinga has returned to Sri Lanka due to an injury. I don't know the exact nature of his injury but he will be examined by the SLC physio in due course,” SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told HT on Friday.
Despite SLC’s confirmation, the Mumbai Indians management maintained an evasive stand on the bowler’s injury status. Ever since the Sri Lankan broke down, the MI management — just like they have done throughout Sachin Tendulkar’s recovery — has steadfastly insisted that he was just resting and would be available for selection for the “next match”.
However, the highest wicket-taker in the history of IPL did not take the field against the Delhi Daredevils on April 16 and the SLC source said the bowler had returned to Sri Lanka on the morning of the match. Even on that day, a Mumbai Indians team official exuded confidence that Malinga would be available for the April 22 match against the Kings XI Punjab.
The same line was repeated on Friday when reporters asked about Malinga’s absence from the team’s training session at the Wankhede Stadium. Malinga has been the best bowler for MI even for this season, claiming nine wickets in 15.5 overs at an economy rate of 4.54.