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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

IPL 2019: Lasith Malinga causes happy dilemma for Mumbai Indians after Alzarri Joseph debut heroics

The dilemma of whom to fit in among the foreigners in his bowling unit has been created thanks to the sensational debut of Alzarri Joseph, against Sunrisers Hyderabad. If the young Antigua pacer can build on his opening act of 6/12, he adds a different dimension to the already impressive bowling line-up that also has Jasprit Bumrah.

cricket Updated: Apr 10, 2019 09:10 IST
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma celebrates a wicket with Lasith Malinga.
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma celebrates a wicket with Lasith Malinga.(AFP)
         

With IPL legend Lasith Malinga back after turning out for his team in Sri Lanka’s domestic tournament, Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma is facing a selection headache for Wednesday’s IPL match against Kings XI Punjab.

The dilemma of whom to fit in among the foreigners in his bowling unit has been created thanks to the sensational debut of Alzarri Joseph, against Sunrisers Hyderabad. If the young Antigua pacer can build on his opening act of 6/12, he adds a different dimension to the already impressive bowling line-up that also has Jasprit Bumrah.

Picked only as a replacement after Adam Milne was ruled out due to injury, there wasn’t much expectation from the Antiguan. But he proved a surprise package for the opponents and his own teammates.

Ishan Kishan, who had faced Joseph in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup while captaining India, said he is a much improved bowler. “At the U-19 World Cup also he was very good; he had won the tournament for his team. Now, he has an even better rhythm, he has improved his line and length and reads the batsmen much better,” said Ishan, expected to retain his place in the MI eleven as a batsman for the Wankhede Stadium clash.

Ishan said the awkward bounce the lanky pacer generates is tough for Indian batsmen to negotiate. “His ball skids off the surface and because of his height he gets a lot of bounce, which makes it difficult for the batsmen. If you look at the batsmen in our domestic cricket, they get to play normal bounce, and when he gets the extra bounce, it gets difficult for the batsmen to score runs.”

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The four foreigners fielded by MI in their last game were Quinton de Kock, Kieron Pollard, Joseph and Jason Behrendorff. Behrendoroff looks the most vulnerable, but he has done well in MI’s last two victories, claiming 2/22 runs in four overs against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede before returning 1/28 against Sunrisers.

As for Malinga, the senior pro has struck form. However, MI will have to take into account his workload. The Sri Lanka one-day captain has been travelling back and forth from Colombo, juggling his IPL games and domestic duty.

 

Wednesday and Thursday are going to be tough for Malinga. It is learnt he has a game in Colombo on Thursday morning (in the Sri Lanka Super Four Provincial Limited Over Tournament) and will be heading straight to the airport after the match to take a flight. He will land around 5.30 am at Colombo and head straight to the ground. Playing in the domestic event is mandatory for World Cup consideration.

He did the same after the last game at the Wankhede, playing against CSK on April 3, and against Kandy at Pallekele the next day. It is another matter that Malinga picked seven 7/49 in 9.5 overs.

Fortunately, it is his last game of the domestic competition. He can breathe easy after that.

First Published: Apr 09, 2019 21:13 IST

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