Malinga all set to retire

Colombo: Veteran Sri Lankan pace bowler Lasith Malinga will retire from one-day international cricket after the first match of a three-match series against Bangladesh, skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said on Monday.

Malinga was named in the 22-man Sri Lanka squad for the series with matches scheduled for 26, 28 and 31 July at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. But speaking at the team’s press conference in the Sri Lankan capital, Karunaratne confirmed the 36-year-old fast bowler and the former captain would only appear in the first game.

“He is going to play the first match. After that, he is retiring. That’s what he said to me. I don’t know what he said for the selectors but for me, he said he is playing only one match,’ said  Karunaratne.

Malinga, 35, will leave as Sri Lanka’s third-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket with 335 wickets in 219 innings so far. Only Muttiah Muralitharan (523) and Chaminda Vaas (399) have taken more wickets than Malinga in ODIs for Sri Lanka. He was Sri Lanka’s highest wicket-taker at the World Cup, claiming 13 scalps in seven innings. Malinga retired from Test cricket in 2011 but continued to remain available in other formats since then.

‘Colombo is safe’

Meanwhile, Bangladesh was comfortable with the high level of security as they became the first foreign team to visit Sri Lanka since the Easter bombings, skipper Tamim Iqbal said Monday.

Speaking to reporters two days after arriving in Colombo, Tamim said security was not a concern for them although the hosts had arranged tight protection following the 21 April attacks that killed 258 people.

“The security has been fantastic … The facilities they have given us are top-notch,” he said. “We are feeling very comfortable. There is nothing except cricket (that) we are thinking of. The boys are enjoying the hotel and if they want to go out, it is completely safe for us.”

A local Islamic extremist group was blamed for the 21 April suicide bombings against three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo. The authorities on Monday extended a state of emergency by a further month till 22 August giving more powers to security authorities to arrest and detain suspects. Tamim said Sri Lanka had played in Bangladesh despite violence in his country and said his team’s visit was also a part of reciprocating the solidarity shown by their hosts.

The Bangladesh team are provided with a level of security usually reserved for visiting state dignitaries, with additional deployments at their hotel and armed guards for their motorcade.