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    Malinga-Mercurial Maker of records

    September 08, 2019

    Malinga’s brilliance as a bowler (at his peak, especially) is undoubted. No Sri Lankan pacie has induced such awe, commanded so much respect and set so many tongues wagging as this curly haired Yorker specialist.He is not the common or garden speedster who delivers from the classic 120′ clock position. His arm is much lower, almost round arm, but when his Yorker is on target, he is well-high unplayable. 338 wickets in 226 matches bespeak a fair degree of productivity.

    He was on the threshold of immorality when Friday’s match at Pallekele got underway. His tally which stood at 99 wickets in 75 matches, a zoomed to 104 as he produced four sizzling yorkers in four balls to send back Colin Munro, Hamish Rutherford, Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor. He had not done. In his next over, his third he found the edge of Tim Seifert’s bat to claim his fifth wicket. His final analysis was a staggering 4-1-6-5.

    Malinga has now added a four in four in the T20 format, to go with a similar effort in the 50-over World Cup in 2007. The fact that he has performed his second hat-trick in this format was lost in the seething emotions of a crowded stadium.The aggressive streak in him was encapsulated by a triumphant Malinga who said “I always come to every match thinking I can turn the game around. The skill that I have in taking wickets, considering the experience, is more than any other player on the field. I don’t care who believes that or not, but I believe that. So I want to control the game as soon as I get the ball in hand.”

    Describing in detail the thought process that went on during that four wicket blitz, he continue “After taking the first wicket [of Munro], the newcomer [Rutherford] was an inexperienced left hander. I thought of getting him out in the first ball. My best weapon is the inswinging yorker, so I thought of using that and he got out”.

    On Grandhomme and Taylor “ These two guys have been a real headache for us throughout the series. The other bowlers failed to get them in the other match. I was thinking how to get these two guys, and I knew we could win the game if we get them. I thought that if I could bowl two yorkers, then why not the third? So I got back to my mental preparation that I do before I bowl a yorker, and walked back to my run-up”.

    This God-given ability to deliver a perfect yorker at any given time has long been one of the outstanding traits of Malinga’s bowling. “The timing and accuracy was there and I got the third wicket. When I got the third, I was thinking again: ‘Why not try it a fourth time?’ It was all the same preparation again and I did it.”It was case of the skipper and premier paceman leading by example as Malinga scythed through the top order and Akila Dananjaya and Wanindu Hasaranga cashed in by exposing the middle order to their assortment of googlies. The visitors displayed a pathetic inability to read the wrong-un. (Avishka Fernando was also guilty of that).

    Malinga’s exploits made certain, that his barren captaincy streak of 14 straight looses in the shorter formats would be brought to an end. It is a matter of interest that Lasith Malinga becomes the first bowler in international cricket to capture 100 wickets or more in all three formats (Test 101, ODI 338 an T20I 104). He is also the only player with five hat-tricks.

    Malinga’s World Cup best was a 6-38 against Kenya on home soil in 2011. Other teams that have been swept aside (or blown away) by Malinga include Scotland (5-30) Australia (5-28 at Suriyawewa) South Africa (5-54 at Paarl), Pakistan (5-52 at Fatallah, and 5-56 at Dhaka) and England (5-44 at Dambulla).

    A four-in-four against South Africa, with his victims being Andrew Hall, Shaun Pollock, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Nitini) made history in the World Cup competition. On top of that, the ‘slinger’ captured three hat-tricks during his stellar career.

    What of Malinga, the tail-end worthy? Most of his knocks have been brief-a lusty swish or two, followed by the inevitable demise. One occasion on which Malinga proved his worth with the bat was at Melbourne in 2010 when Sri Lanka chased down a target in excess of 200. In tandem with Angelo Mathews, who was then en a roll, Malinga contributed 56 in a ninth wicket stand of 132. Impending defeat was turned into joyous triumph by the slightly unexpected exploits of the paceman. Mathews was solid and unshakeable, but Malinga rose to the occasion and provided enthusiastic support.


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