Malinga and the Indians


Rex Clementine

reporting from Suriyawewa

Lasith Malinga, without doubt is one of the most devastating bowlers in international cricket and receives a high premium wherever he goes. His speed, accuracy and the ability to bowl toe-crushing yorkers to devastating effect, has helped Sri Lanka to stage many a comeback from points of no return.

Such has been Malinga’s effect, that during the 2007 ICC World Cup in the Caribbean, Sir Viv Richards stated that Lasith Malinga is the best thing that happened to Sri Lanka cricket after Aravinda de Silva.

However, Malinga’s record against India has been below average. On Saturday, during Sri Lanka’s 21 run defeat in the first ODI to the tourists here at Suriyawewa, Lasith Malinga conceded 83 runs, without taking a wicket, the most runs conceded by a Sri Lankan bowler at home in ODIs.

The previous worst bowling performance in an ODI by a Sri Lankan bowler at home was also by Malinga, that too against India, when he conceded 81 runs in 10 overs at the R. Premadasa Stadium, in 2009.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Malinga’s previous assignment against the Indians was in Hobart, during the tri-nation series in Australia, where he conceded 96 runs after bowling just 7.1 overs.

But what is more shocking is that in ODI cricket, Malinga’s career best against India has been a disappointing two for 21, which he recorded at Dambulla in 2010. Although Malinga has taken 192 wickets in 123 games in ODI cricket, his statistics against India are alarming, as he has managed just 26 wickets against them in 24 matches, at an average of 45:73, way above his career average of 26:63.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who last year endorsed Malinga’s premature retirement from Test cricket, wasn’t able to explain why Malinga struggled against India after Saturday’s loss. "I don’t know," Mahela said. "Some of the batters seem to get hold of him sometimes. Today, I thought he bowled the first seven overs well, but in the last three overs, he went for runs. I had to hold him as I bowled five overs of him at a stretch. Usually, he doesn’t do that. But I had to keep him back, as I didn’t have Kulasekara today. Lastih bowled five overs at a stretch, so I don’t know whether that affected him."

However, Mahela remained confident that Malinga will stage a comeback in the remainder of the series. "He usually comes back after a bad game and I hope he comes back."

Mahela denied that Malinga’s frequent appearances in the IPL has enabled the Indians to play him better. "Lastih has played for nearly 10 years for Sri Lanka now and the amount of time we play India, I am sure those guys get used to him more than playing in the IPL," he said.

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