Lasith Malinga

'My only target is to play knock-out round in T20 World Cup' – Lasith Malinga

Sri Lanka T20I captain Lasith Malinga has admitted that he doesn't mind hanging up his boots in the shortest format if his team makes it to the knock-out stage of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020.

The veteran bowler, who has already retired from the other two formats, now wants to keep the best interest of Sri Lanka cricket in mind. Sri Lanka have reached the final of the 20-over edition thrice and won it once, in 2014, when they beat India.

"I've already retired from Tests and ODIs. Now whatever is required for Sri Lanka cricket; if they say it's enough for me now then I'll be really happy to retire from T20s also," he said on the eve of the series opener against India, on Saturday, 4 January.

"My only target is to play knock-out round in the T20 World Cup. If Sri Lanka qualify for the knockouts, I would not mind retiring anytime after that."

The Men's T20 World Cup begins on 18 October this year, with Sri Lanka playing their first game against Ireland in Geelong.

Even though Malinga is leading a young side, he is confident they can give their best in the 'unpredictable' T20 format. He also added that playing against India will help them prepare well for the tournament.

"We are looking for a new start in the New Year. T20 is an unpredictable format. We can't predict who's the best. Anyone can change the momentum in one over. I want to give an opportunity to the young players. They are talented, have skills but lack experience. It's an important series to set the tone for us," said Malinga, who is the only bowler to take 100 wickets in T20Is.

Malinga also said that Sri Lanka will be targeting India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, who is returning to the side from an injury. Malinga, who has played alongside Bumrah in the Indian Premier League doesn't mind sharing some tips to outwit the bowler, but expects the batsmen to be equally smart while facing him.

I want to give an opportunity to the young players. They are talented, have skills but lack experience.

Lasith Malinga

"He's [Bumrah] has got the skill and accuracy. But coming after the injury when you don't play much cricket for the last four months, the bowlers struggle to get into the rhythm for the first few matches. We want to use that to our advantage.

"I can pass all the information of his attitude and bowling skill. But batsmen will have to be smart enough to handle him carefully," he said.

Sri Lanka play first of the three T20Is on Sunday, 5 January in Guwahati.