Sri Lanka suffered a big jolt ahead of the second cricket Test against India as paceman Lasith Malinga was on Saturday ruled out due to a stiff knee.
Malinga's absence from the line-up, which will also be without retired Muttiah Muralitharan, will give India a huge relief as they seek to level the series.
The second Test begins here from Monday. Malinga returned to Test cricket in a spectacular fashion as he took seven wickets, five in the second innings, in Sri Lanka's comprehensive 10-wicket win in the first match at Galle.
Malinga, who remained out of competitive cricket for a long time, is likely to be replaced by Dilhara Fernando. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials maintained that Malinga is not injured.
"There is no injury as such to Malinga. Since he is coming after a long break, he is being rested. We want to protect him and he may play third Test," Nishanta Ranatunga, SLC Secretary told PTI.
"He only has some strain which is common to fast bowlers," said Sri Lanka's Media Manager Brian Thomas.
Fernando in all likelihood will take Malinga's place but the Lankan team management also has the option of Dammika Prasad and Nuwan Kulasekara. Ajantha Mendis, who tormented the Indians in their last tour here, will take Muralitharan's place in the playing eleven.
Mendis took six wickets in the only practice game before the Test series but was ignored by the selectors in the for the first Test.