Malinga and Tharanga as Sri Lanka’s Point-Men?

The Australian, 15 February 2017 deploying Champaka Ramanayake

malinga Sri Lanka’s bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake has declared Lasith Malinga the best T20 bowler in the world as he prepares to make his return to international cricket in a three-match series against Australia. Malinga is set to face the Prime Minister’s XI at Manuka Oval in Canberra today, their only warm-up match before Friday’s series opener against Australia in Melbourne.

The 33-year-old withdrew from last year’s T20 World Cup and IPL with knee soreness. He was set to make a comeback in the recent limited-overs series against South Africa until a bout of dengue fever put the brakes on his return.

Ramanayake said Malinga was a brilliant addition to any Sri Lankan side. “He’s the best bowler in the world in this format,” Ramanayake said.

He is counting on Malinga to form a lethal partnership with lively seamer Nuwan Kulasekara who played in Sri Lanka’s 2-1 T20 victory over South Africa.

“Those guys have done wonderfully well for Sri Lanka the last decade,” Ramanayake said.

PM’s XI captain Adam Voges was in the Perth Scorchers side devastated by Malinga’s record 6-7 in 2012 while he was playing for the Melbourne Stars in the BBL.

“When he was at the top of his game he’s one of the more difficult bowlers in the world to face,” Voges said. “Where he delivers the ball is obviously very different to where everyone else does. You’re looking at the middle of the umpire’s chest because that’s about where it’s going to come from.”

With the PM’s XI a mixture of youth and experience, Voges, 37, will be urging the side’s young players to be patient against Malinga’s slinging action even in the shortest form of the game.

“I think it’s just a fact of getting used to him and at least having a look at a couple of balls,” Voges said. “Obviously 20-20 cricket you don’t have a lot of time to do that but they’ll just have to adjust as best they can.”

While Malinga’s return is a major boost, the Sri Lankans have suffered a blow with regular skipper Angelo Mathews absent from the tour with a hamstring injury.

“He’s a very experienced player but unfortunately he got injured,” Ramanayake said.

“We have managed to win without him. Hopefully the youngsters will do the job.”

Opening batsman Upul Tharanga will captain Sri Lanka on the tour that moves to Geelong on Sunday before concluding in Adelaide on Wednesday. ………………………………

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