Retiring fast bowler Lasith Malinga is in focus as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh prepare for their first series after the Cricket World Cup 2019, a three-match face-off in Colombo from Friday providing them with a chance to work their way up in the ICC ODI Rankings.
Malinga, who will retire from ODIs after the opening match, is the second-highest ranked bowler from his side in 35th position, with 552 rating points. He is nowhere near his peak in terms of rankings, but the 35-year-old would like to go out with a memorable performance to cap a 15-year ODI career.
The only bowler to have taken three ODI hat-tricks, Malinga attained a career-high points' tally of 675 after a memorable spell of three for 22 against Bangladesh in Colombo in July 2007. His highest ranking was seventh in November 2011, achieved against Pakistan in Dubai.
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Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Cricket president Shammi Silva hailed Malinga as an all-time great. The limited-overs specialist is third on the list of Sri Lanka's leading ODI wicket-takers, claiming 335 in 225 matches.
Silva lavished praised on the 35-year-old, who will remain available for Twenty20 International selection.
"Lasith Malinga is an exceptional player, who has contributed immensely to the game of cricket in Sri Lanka," Silva said.
"His departure from ODI cricket opens up a door for young bowlers to come and emulate what Malinga has done, while playing for the country."
Spinner Akila Dananjaya is the highest-ranked bowler from Sri Lanka in 21st position, while Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella are the leading batsmen for the home side, in 35th and 42nd positions, respectively.
In the absence of World Cup star and world's top all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who has been rested from the series, Bangladesh batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim (19th) and Tamim Iqbal (27th) will be leading the charge among batsmen, while Mustafizur Rahman (15th) and Mehidy Hasan Miraz (17th) would be looking to move towards the top 10 in the bowlers' list.
In the ODI Team Rankings, seventh-placed Bangladesh can increase the lead over Sri Lanka from 11 to 16 points with a 3-0 win while losing the series by the same margin could see them slip to ninth position, behind the West Indies on decimal points.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne (c), Kusal Perera (wk), Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Shehan Jayasuriya, Dhananjaya de Silva, Lasith Malinga, Wanidu Hasaranga, Akila Dananjaya, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal (c), Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Anamul Haque, Mehidy Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Taijul Islam, Mohammad Saifuddin, Farhad Reza
(With Agency inputs)
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