Known for his unique action and crushing yorkers from over the wicket, Malinga’s strategy to bowl from the right of the stumps was relatively new.
‘Maaalingaaaaa, Maaalingaaaa’ roared the Wankhede Stadium crowd as Lasith Malinga streamed in to bowl from round the wicket. The Mumbai Indians pacer unleash a missile-like short ball at over 130kmph to Andre Russell, which the batsman failed to counter while gloving it to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock.
The wicket of the dangerous Russell demolished any chances of a Kolkata Knight Riders victory as MI knocked them out of the IPL by nine wickets in a low-scoring tie on Sunday night.
Malinga’s 3/35 ably supported by other bowlers restricted KKR to 133/7 as MI, riding on Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten half-century, chased down the total with 23 balls to spare.
Known for his unique action and crushing yorkers from over the wicket, Malinga’s strategy to bowl from the right of the stumps was relatively new. However, it was something that he was working on for the past one week with his team’s support staff.
“We have been working on it for a week or so, trying to create a different angle because the batsmen (may be) getting used to him,” MI coach Mahela Jayawardene told reporters after the game.
“That’s something we are practicing. He had a good practice session yesterday (Saturday) and he felt very good. We told him it’s about time he tries it in a game. That’s the thing in modern-day cricket, even though you have been a great, you still have to find new ways of creating things. It was nice to see him opening up for that idea and getting rewards,” he added.
The former Sri Lankan captain admitted it was not easy for Malinga to get used to it. “It’s good to see him trying different things and it was not easy for him. He had to go to Sri Lanka, play a few games and come back. So, we had to manage,” Jayawardene said.
Rewind to the 2018 IPL season, and Malinga was in the MI dug out mentoring the young fast bowlers due to a snub in the January 2018 auction thanks to his poor performance in the 2017 IPL.
Having done well for Sri Lanka and playing well in the other leagues of the world, the 35-year-old Malinga threw his hat in the ring for the auctions this time in the build-up to the World Cup and MI lapped him for his base price for Rs 2 crore.
And boy hasn’t the season turned out to be a memorable one for him, with Malinga picking up 15 wickets from 10 matches including two four-wicket hauls against Chennai Super Kings – MI’s qualifier opponents – and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“It’s a very good group that we got with Bondy (Shane Bond), Zak (Zaheer Khan), Mali (Malinga). We have got a lot of experience playing in different parts of the world, in different conditions. We try and grasp that,” Jayawardene said.