Malinga handed Sri Lankan captaincy

Veteran takes over for fourth ODI against India to be Sri Lanka's fifth captain in the past seven games as selection panel quits en masse

Veteran quick Lasith Malinga will captain Sri Lanka in the fourth ODI against India on Thursday, his team's fifth captain in just seven games of what has been a horror campaign for the home side.

Sri Lanka confirmed on Wednesday that Malinga would captain the team in Colombo this week, two months after he was fined and handed a suspended ban for comments he made after the ICC Champions Trophy in June.

The latest captaincy shift comes as Sri Lanka's selection panel released a lengthy statement confirming they had resigned following a horror stretch that has seen them win just four of their past 15 matches across all formats.

Malinga's elevation to the captaincy comes after Chamara Kapugedara, who led the side in the third ODI on Sunday, was ruled out for the rest of the series due to a back injury.

Kapugedara had been named captain after regular ODI skipper Upul Tharanga was banned following an over-rate offence in the second match of the series.

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The hosts had also used two captains in the preceding Test series, which they lost 3-0; veteran spinner Rangana Herath filled in for skipper Denesh Chandimal in the first Test before Chandimal returned for the final two matches of the series.

Having suffered an embarrassing ODI series loss to Zimbabwe in July that saw Angelo Mathews quit the captaincy, then narrowly avoiding a Test defeat, and with India holding an unbeaten record on this current tour, national selectors confirmed on Wednesday that they have decided to step down.

In announcing their resignation, the selection panel – comprising of former players Sanath Jayasuriya, Asanka Gurusinha, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Eric Upashantha and Ranjith Madurusinghe – said the recent crowd violence from fans angry with the recent results contributed to their decision.

"We wish to state this decision is made in the best interest of the game, which is being damaged and hindered by undue criticism and false allegations instigated by interested parties with malicious intent," a statement read.

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"This instigation has led to a public outcry, which in both the short and long term is damaging the present and the future of the game by demoralizing the players and creating an unfair, untrue and hurtful image of the team, the coaching staff, the selectors, and the administration.

"The heartbreaking incidents of unruly behaviour we witnessed at Pallakelle last Sunday were the last straw for us, and we feel that it will serve this sport we love better if we step down, rather than allow the influence of these dark elements to poison the minds of our people who have always been the greatest supporters in the world, and damage not only this great sport, but the reputation of our country, our people and our proud culture.

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"We leave with tears in eyes, but with our heads held high as we know that Sri Lanka Cricket is working to a very defined and strategic plan, building from the foundation upwards, and as with all masterpieces, the results take time to show."

In June, Malinga was banned for a year (suspended for six months) and fined 50 per cent of his next ODI match fee after he hit back at a claim by sports minister Dayasiri Jayasekara that the Sri Lanka team was unfit.

Following Sri Lanka’s Champions Trophy group-stage exit, Jayasekara said the team’s poor fielding display throughout the tournament was due to substandard fitness and their "big bellies".

Malinga’s responded to the minister’s comments, saying: "I don’t care about criticism from those who are simply warming chairs. What does a monkey know about a parrot’s nesting hollow? This is like a monkey getting into a parrot’s nest and talking about it."