Cricket: Malinga to return from injury during New Zealand ODIs

(REUTERS) - Sri Lanka pace spearhead Lasith Malinga is recovering well from his ankle surgery and should be back in action during the later stages of the one-day international (ODI) series in New Zealand next month, according to coach Marvan Atapattu.

The mercurial Malinga underwent surgery on his left ankle in September and missed the team's one-day series against India and England.

The 31-year-old, whose yorkers delivered with a sling-shot action at times makes him almost unplayable, will be crucial for Sri Lanka's chances in the 50-over World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"Malinga is still recovering from surgery and everything is going well according to plan," former Sri Lanka batsman Atapattu said. "He will return for the last two ODI games in New Zealand."

Malinga, who has taken 271 wickets in 177 ODIs, has been named in Sri Lanka's provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup.

Sri Lanka, who finished runners-up to India at the 2011 World Cup, will play seven one-dayers in New Zealand to warm up for the Feb 14-March 29 tournament.

The island nation will also play two warm-up matches, against South Africa and Zimbabwe, before their opening match of the tournament against co-hosts New Zealand on Feb 14.