Sri Lanka have a lost a few matches but they have a good mix of youth and experience to to make a comeback in the remaining one-day internationals of the five-match series against India, captain of Sri Lanka Lasith Malinga said on Wednesday. He said that he believes Sri Lanka can change their form.
“At the moment, we have lost a few matches. But I still feel we have good young players and a few experienced players. This is time we have to stand up and give confidence to young players, that we’re still good enough to play international cricket. People think we are not top of the table, but I feel we can change that,” said Malinga at the match-eve press conference.
“I don’t recognise pressure. If there is pressure that means you don’t know what to do in a particular instance and you don’t have the ability to do what’s required. The team and I have to build a mentality whereby we don’t feel pressure,” he added.
Malinga will lead the Sri Lanka team in the fourth ODI against India in Colombo after the absence of both suspended Upul Tharanga and injured Chamara Kapugedara. They have already lost the series with losses in first three ODIs but Malinga has the tough task to bring the team back.
“I want to do my best for my team and for the youngsters. Now the nation is looking forward to the next match. We want to win these two matches. That’s why I want to use my experience and give all the confidence to the young players,” said Malinga of this turbulent situation.
“There’s no shortage of talent and skill in our team, but there is a shortcoming in how we execute that. We need to fix our mentality. My main goal is to try and instill a mentality whereby players are able to deal with tough situations and persevere. If that is successful, we will be able to get a good result tomorrow,” he added.
Returning to the team after 19 months, Malinga is yet to find his old form as he has looked vulnerable in his comeback. He said that he is getting better and is ready to play until 2023.
“I didn’t play for 19 months due to my injury. I’ve only played a couple of series since then. Now I feel I am getting better. I’m doing treatment and all the rehabilitation. I am also working on the fitness. Now I feel really comfortable to bowl 10 overs and I bowl consistently. I am looking ahead to bowling the next ball and to get wickets in every match that I am given. I’m ready to play until 2023,” he said.
Malinga explained that he has a gameplan for the fourth ODI and one big worry for his team is that they do not have experienced players in the side.
“The past Sri Lankan team had experienced players. We can see every other country that is playing national cricket worldwide has a high number of experienced players in their eleven. At the moment we haven’t had that luxury. But we’ve had a few talented young players in Sri Lankan cricket. That’s why we want to back them.
“The past is the past. But now we have some good young players. We want to give our experience to them. Then I feel they will do a better stuff for us over the next few years,” he added.
There is big landmark up for grabs for Malinga on Thursday’s match. The Sri Lankan pacer has played 202 ODIs and taken 299 wickets. One more wicket and he will reach the landmark of 300 wickets.
“I have no special aim to get 300 wickets. M S (Dhoni) also has played nearly 300 matches. Whoever is playing that number of matches, they are there because they are doing really well. Otherwise nobody could do that. MS is doing really well for the country, that’s why he’s playing 300 ODI matches. I feel also the same.
“If I’m doing well for the country, that’s why I’m being kept in the team. I also have 299 wickets at the moment. So I’m really happy and proud,” he said.
“I’ve played last 14 years in international and franchise cricket. I’ve played every other country and every single player in national cricket. Now I’m 34. My pace is cut down. If you asked me 10 years ago, I didn’t expect this. But whoever is coming towards the end of their careers, there is failure. People talk about them not being fit enough, or not picking him,” he added.
“I played with him in the IPL close to 3-5 years. He is a legend of the Indian bowling attack in previous years. We always talk with so many bowlers around the world. When I meet them I want to get their experience also because they are in the commentary box. They look at every single one of my body movements and my bowling action, and how I swing the ball.
“They have a good idea of how I’m going now. Then every time I have an opportunity, we speak about my bowling action, and how I have to improve. Zak is more of a seam and swing bowler, and I want to learn more of that kind of thing over the next few years. That’s what I talked with him,” Malinga signed off.