COLOMBO: Veteran Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga says he will assess his future in international cricket after the current limited overs series against India, saying he will call it quits the moment his performance drops.
Malinga took his 300th ODI wicket when he dismissed Virat Kohli in the fourth match, which the hosts lost by 168 runs to concede a 4-0 series lead last night.
"I'm playing after 19 months following a leg injury. In the Zimbabwe and India series I couldn't play well. I'll see where I'm at after this series, and evaluate how long I can play given the way my body is.
"No matter how experienced I am if I can't win a match for the team and do what the team needs, there's no point in me being here. I'll see if I can make up for that 19 months and regain that form over the next 3 or four months," Malinga said.
A day before the match, which the hosts lost by 168 runs, he had expressed hope of playing until the next World Cup. But based on his form lately, he admitted that the future is up for consideration.
"I'll see the number of games that I get. If not I'll have to consider the state of my body, and what is expected of me. If I can't deliver that, then I'll happily retire."
The stand-in skipper has said that the 219-run partnership between Kohli and Rohit Sharma took the game away from them as they couldn't counter their attacking hundreds.
"Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma played really well. We didn't consistently bowl a good line and length. I think on this kind of wicket our length is very crucial and we have to concentrate more on that. The first 30-40 runs Virat got very quickly," Malinga said at the post-match press conference.
The pace spearhead added, "I feel there was a bit of grass on the wicket and bowling first, we tried to swing the ball. Then we went for a bit of runs. It's a learning process for the young players. We tried to swing the ball earlier, and that's why we went fuller. But it didnt happen. That's the game of cricket."
Kohli (131 runs off 96 balls) and Rohit (104 off 88) made merry on a batting beauty to guide India to 375 for five, the highest total posted by a visiting team in an ODI in Sri Lanka.
"Today was a very hot day. I feel it's hard for everyone to concentrate on long spells in that kind of heat. That's why we realised that we needed to bowl short spells and get maximum from the player. Then they have good energy for 2-3 overs," he added.
Malinga absolved the Lankan batsmen from any blame once again, highlighting that they are still gaining in experience and it was the bowlers' job to contain the scoring on a flat batting track.
"We didn't bowl well in this game. With the batsmen, we only had one experienced batsman Angelo Mathews. Others are young players, but they need time. They are still learning, I feel. I feel they don't have much confidence to play their natural games, because the last couple of matches they lost and everyone wants to get runs.
"That's why they really concentrated on trying to get runs, I feel. They aren't playing natural game. Everyone is waiting for a win," he said.
"In the last couple of matches we lost and they didn't get much runs, they feel they have to score every single match. That's why we can't get their maximum in this period. I think maybe in the next couple of months they will work hard and get good mentality. I hope for Sri Lankan cricket they perform well," he added.
He talked about how this has been a trend since the loss to Zimbabwe at home, but again highlighted the inexperience in the side.
"Since the last match of the Zimbabwe series, we couldn't be successful across batting, bowling and fielding in the same match. In that match we only got about 200 and since then we haven't been able to pass 250.
"I think, personally, if we are playing at the international level, it's when you get experience at that level that you understand how to handle difficult situations. A lot of our players are inexperienced at international level.
"I think if we gave some chances to the young players here, we will get players who can play for a long time. If we can give them experience to the team that goes to the 2019 World Cup, then you will have players who have played 30-50 ODIs.
"In previous teams, you had players who had played a 100 ODIs, or at least 50 ODIs. We need that. Every other team in the world has that experience in their XI. We need to get there."