Sri Lanka’s World Twenty20 title defence suffered a jolt on the day the tournament gets underway with Lasith Malinga’s slow recovery from a knee injury forcing the fast bowler to hand over captaincy to Angelo Mathews.
Malinga remains available for Super 10 stage matches but the paceman with blond-tinted hair and an unorthodox action may not be the same force which has been key to Sri Lanka’s progress to three World Twenty20 finals over the last four editions.
The team, however, can take heart from the fact that a similarly forced change in captaincy marked their triumphant 2014 campaign when out-of-form skipper Dinesh Chandimal sat out the final few matches and Malinga stepped in to lead them to glory.
Test and one-day captain Mathews was named Malinga’s deputy in the original Sri Lankan squad for the tournament in India. Malinga, 32, is recovering slowly from a knee injury and is not certain to play all the side’s matches in India.
Sri Lanka begin their bid for a second World Twenty20 title on March 17 with a Super 10 stage match against a yet-to-be-identified qualifier in Kolkata.
Sri Lanka squad: Angelo Mathews (captain), Dushmantha Chameera, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath, Shehan Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Sachithra Senanayake, Dasun Shanaka, Milinda Siriwardana, Suranga Lakmal