COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's selectors provisionally picked sling-arm fast bowler Lasith Malinga for the World Cup on Wednesday, hoping the spearhead will recover fully from ankle surgery four months ago.
The 31-year-old, the only bowler in history to claim three hat-tricks in one-day internationals, was named in the 15-man squad announced by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in Colombo, pending a fitness test.
The injury-prone Malinga, who has 271 wickets from 177 one-dayers, missed the last two series against India and England after going under the knife in September.
His fitness will be tested when he takes part in the later stages of the seven-match series against New Zealand starting on Sunday.
The SLC statement announcing the squad did not mention Malinga's replacement if he was declared unfit.
If Malinga is available for the World Cup, he will boost an already experienced squad which includes veteran batsmen Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan, and spinner Rangana Herath.
The team, led by Angelo Mathews, also has off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake, whose bowling action was recently cleared by the International Cricket Council after he was suspended in June.
Sri Lanka, who won the World Cup in 1996, reached the final of the last two editions but lost to Australia in 2007 and to India in 2011.
Sri Lanka are drawn in pool A alongside co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, England, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Scotland. The top four in the pool will advance to the quarter-finals.
Mathews' men begin their campaign with the tournament opener against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on February 14.
The World Cup ends on March 29.
Sri Lanka's squad
Angelo Mathews (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne, Jeevan Mendis, Thisara Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Lasith Malinga, Dhammika Prasad, Nuwan Kulasekara, Rangana Herath, Sachithra Senanayake.
Coach: Marvan Atapattu.
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