Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting has almost given up hope of having the services of premier pacer bowler Lasith Malinga for at least the first half of IPL-9.

Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga

“He is not with the squad now. He’s unlikely to take part in the first half of the tournament. I believe he will be joining us after the first couple of games to have his fitness assessed,” said Ponting, who will have to take a call on Malinga’s replacement before the fifth match of the IPL.

Malinga missed the World T20 and resigned as Sri Lanka’s captain at the last moment after failing to recover from a knee injury.

Ponting said Malinga will be missed, but the coach is not fretting over the pacer’s loss. “He will be missed, but we have to think about who the best replacement will be. Will it be Marchant de Lange, will it be Tim Southee?

Will we go in with three overseas batsmen? So there are headaches we have, which is a nice thing. If Malinga is ruled out, we have more than adequate guys to fill his shoes,” said Ponting adding that West Indies big-hitter Kieron Pollard has recovered from his knee injury and is available for selection.