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Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 20 (ANI): One of the greatest bowling sensations of IPL and for Mumbai Indians, Lasith Malinga has decided to retire from franchise cricket. The Sri Lankan speedster informed his decision to the Mumbai Indians management earlier this month, making himself unavailable for the champion side's retention wish list.

Mumbai Indians management respects Lasith Malinga's decision and hence he is not part of the club's 18-member retention squad announced on Wednesday.

Akash Ambani, Owner, Mumbai Indians said in a statement, "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.""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. At Mumbai Indians, Malinga will always be a part of the MI family and we hope we can continue to lean on his experience in a non-playing capacity in the future."On his decision, Malinga said, "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. 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.

"Mumbai Indians has treated me like family, supporting me 100 per cent in every situation both on and off the field, and always giving me the confidence and the freedom to play my natural game whenever I walked onto the field. I have collected so many happy memories that I cherish and I am very grateful to have played for so long for the best franchise in world cricket. I would like to wish Nita Ambani, coach Mahela (Jayawardene), Akash (Ambani) and the MI family all the best for the upcoming season," he added.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians on Wednesday retained their core-group and released seven players including Malinga, Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson for the 2021 edition of the IPL.

Record five-time IPL title holders now have 18 players in their squad with seven spots open which can be filled in the mini-auction. MI can pick as many as four overseas players for the next season. Mumbai has backed their core players which enabled them to lift the IPL trophy in back-to-back seasons.

Retained players: Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (WK), Chris Lynn, Anmolpreet Singh, Saurabh Tiwary, Aditya Tare (WK), Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav, Dhawal Kulkarni, Mohsin Khan.

Released players: Lasith Malinga, Mitch McClenaghan, James Pattinson, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Sherfane Rutherford, Prince Balwant Rai, Digvijay Deshmukh. (ANI)

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