Three-time winners, Mumbai Indians suffered a major blow as the legendary Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga ruled himself out of at least the first six IPL matches in order to make the Sri Lankan squad for the upcoming 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Malinga, who has been associated with the Mumbai Indians since the inaugural edition, was appointed as the bowling mentor for the Mumbai franchise after going unsold at the 2018 IPL auction.
However, this year his fortunes changed as he returned to International Cricket with a bang and was eventually bought by the Mumbai Indians at his base price of INR 2 crore during the auction at Jaipur in December 2018. The 35-year-old is the highest wicket-taker in the history of the IPL with 154 wickets in 100 matches at an economy of 6.86.
As the Sri Lankan selectors have asked their players to be available for the Super Provincial Domestic One Day tournament (from April 4 to April 11) if they are to be considered for the World Cup, Malinga, who will be captaining the Galle side, is expected to play the tournament.
"I'm ok with losing those earnings from IPL. I'm doing it for the country. Once I become available for Mumbai Indians, I would have missed seven or eight games. So there's probably no point in them waiting around for me. Better for them to find someone else to replace me with," Malinga conceded.
Rohit Sharma's men, who finished fifth on the points table last season, will be determined to put up a strong show and go all the way this season. Let us now look at three players who can replace Malinga at Mumbai Indians!
#1 James Pattinson
As of now, Mumbai have only three overseas pace bowling options - Jason Behrendorff, Ben Cutting and Mitchell McClenaghan. With Ben Cutting proving to be expensive with the ball and Behrendorff likely to leave the IPL mid-way, Mumbai must find a quality pacer to strengthen the squad and James Pattinson fits the bill.
Though he was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad during the 2011 and 2012 IPL seasons after being bought for USD 100,000, Pattinson did not play a single game across season four and five respectively. At INR 1 crore, he went unsold at the 2019 IPL auctions, but could be roped in to replace Malinga.