Tallangatta star import back

HE'S BACK: Indian import Sahib Malhotra will return for Tallangatta on Saturday. In only four games last season, he took 17 wickets and struck a century.
HE'S BACK: Indian import Sahib Malhotra will return for Tallangatta on Saturday. In only four games last season, he took 17 wickets and struck a century.

Tallangatta’s Indian import Sahib Malhotra will make his long-awaited season debut on Saturday.

“Sahib will arrive on Wednesday morning, so that’s good to have him back,” coach Matt Armstrong said.

The former Indian under 19 squad member had been delayed by visa issues.

It means the Bushies will, finally, be able to play both overseas players in the one game at home against Wodonga Raiders.

Those hopes were dashed last season when former Sri Lankan international Dilhara Lokuhettige dislocated his ankle playing in the United States.

The hard-hitting all-rounder is coming off an impressive 80 against Albury.

“It’s certainly the most runs he’s scored in an innings for us,” Armstrong said of his first half-century.

“He showed a lot of promise in the games last year and has a few shots that other people don’t possess.”

The inclusion of Malhotra means the Bushies will have one of the more dangerous line-ups.

Malhotra, Lokuhettige and Armstrong are potent with the bat and ball, while Nathan Thompson is a dangerous batsman.

Paceman Sam Stephens has also posted top 10 finishes over the last two years.

“We expect our top-end to do well, but if we’re going to challenge, we need the young guys to step up and do well,” Armstrong said.

“That’s probably where we’ve picked up the advantage at the moment.”

Jake Hill had a strong double against Albury, posting a crucial 31 at number six before snaring 3-31, while Lachie Paton also impressed.

Lokuhettige’s classy innings played a crucial role in the 44-run win over the battling Albury.

“I need to get big, big runs, not 80, 50, I need to get a hundred, that’s the main thing,” he said.

“Before the end of this season, I need to get two or three hundreds, that’s my main target.”

If he is able to peel off some centuries, it will be a thrill as Lokuhettige boasts seven first-class tons, including a top score of 211.

However, the 37-year old admits he’s not sure when, or if, he will boast elite fitness after suffering that horror injury while playing in the US Open, which featured a host of former internationals.

“The doctors have told me this is one of the worst injuries, they’re not able to guarantee recovery time,” he said.

“I need to be more fit because then I can perform better, especially with the bowling and, at the moment now after my injury, I am bowling off six, seven steps.”

As expected of a former international, Lokuhettige has the ability to lift, winning player of the tournament in the US Open.