The islanders have missed Malinga — one of the world’s great fast bowlers — through injury and their performances have suffered.
Sri Lanka won a series against Zimbabwe and West Indies last year but were beaten in one-day contests on tours of England and South Africa in 2016-17 season.
So selectors have turned to Malinga and brought back fit-again all-rounder Angelo Mathews to lead the side for the 50-over tournament starting June 1.
He has won the Indian Premier League title with the Mumbai Indians however. Malinga was the only player excused from the high altitude training camp for Sri Lanka’s England-bound players because of the IPL campaign.
“His fitness is improving and we are hoping that he will be able to deliver the full quota of 10 overs (a match) in England,” said Sri Lanka Cricket president Thilanga Sumathipala.
Sri Lanka have also made Allan Donald fast bowling coach for the tournament after bringing back Graham Ford for a second coaching stint with the team since early 2016.
Donald said he has high hopes for the pace attack of Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thisara Perera and Malinga.
“Sri Lanka has a lot of skills. A lot of leadership with the ball … what is there to be scared of?”
Ford has played down the team’s chances in the eight-nation event however, calling them the tournament “underdogs”.
“Sometimes that is a good place to be. We’ve certainly got a chance of upsetting one of the so-called better nations. We will just be going one game at a time,” said the South African.
Those hopes hit an early rock when world’s sixth ranked one day team were beaten by minnows Scotland in a preparatory 50-over game in Kent this week.
Sri Lankan quicks, without Malinga, failed to defend a 287-run score and Scotland cantered home in 42.5 overs.
Sri Lanka made some amends by winning the second match against Scotland by nine wickets to end the two-match series on 1-1. (Courtesy AFP)