Lasith Malinga, the all-time leading wicket-taker in Indian Premier League (IPL) history, has decided to retire from franchise cricket.
Malinga's announcement brings an end to his 12-year association with incumbent IPL champions Mumbai Indians. He had informed the IPL team about his unavailability and was subsequently released by them ahead of the auction next month.
He was part of four title-winning campaigns with Mumbai Indians with the final over of his IPL career helping his side triumph in the thrilling final against Chennai Super Kings in 2019.
"Lasith Malinga has been at the core of Mumbai Indians for 12 years. We respect his decision, even though I would have liked him to be part of our bowling attack for another five years," said Mumbai Indians owner Akash Ambani.
"Malinga is an MI legend. His contributions to Mumbai Indians' journey are invaluable. We will miss the Wankhede chant for him, but he will always be in the heart of all MI fans."
Apart from a successful IPL career, Malinga engaged in impressive stints with Guyana Amazon Warriors, Jamaica Tallawahs, St Lucia Zouks, Khulna Titans, Rangpur Riders and Melbourne Stars elsewhere.
Going into the detail about his decision to quit his status as a T20 globetrotter, the speedster confirmed travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of training led him to come to this conclusion.
"After discussing with family, I think now is the right time to retire from all franchise cricket. The Pandemic situation and the restrictions on travel will make it difficult for me given my personal circumstances to participate fully in franchise cricket for the next year and therefore it is best to make this decision now," Malinga elaborated.
"I have discussed the same with Mumbai Indians management in recent days as they prepare for the upcoming auction and they have been very supportive and understanding. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ambani family, everyone at the Mumbai Indians franchise and all our fans for the wonderful 12 years," he said.
He wished the Mumbai Indians, coached by former Sri Lanka teammate Mahela Jayawardene, good luck for the forthcoming season.