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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Lasith Malinga

Lasith Malinga

Age 40Sri LankaSRI LANKA
Right-arm fast Bowler

After the retirement of Jeff Thomson, the cricketing world didn't a better slinging bowler than Lasith Malinga. The Galle-born speedster is one of the very few world-class pacers that Sri Lanka has produced over the years.

Malinga grew up playing on the sandy beaches of Galle with a softball where he developed his unique round-arm action to deliver his trademark toe-crushing yorkers that led to his nickname, 'Slinga'. He later made his debut for Galle in 2001-02 and developed a fearsome reputation in domestic cricket for hurling deliveries consistently at the toes of batsmen which made it difficult to pick because of his unusual point of delivery, in front of the umpire's frame.

A well-thought-out move by the Sri Lankan selectors to include Malinga in the 2004 Australia tour paid off as he single-handedly rattled the Australian batsmen by picking 10 wickets in the two Tests. Later in Napier, he ripped through New Zealand's batting order bagging nine wickets in the game. He made his ODI debut against UAE in 2004 and was one of Sri Lanka's standout bowlers in the 2007 World Cup where he picked up a phenomenal 4 wickets off 4 balls against South Africa in a game.

A wonderful exponent of the yorker, Malinga's awkward action helped him generate disconcerting bounce and he also had a very well-disguised slower delivery up his arsenal. However, injuries often kept him out of the playing eleven. Malinga retired pre-maturely from Tests in 2011, owing to a persistent knee injury but insisted on continuing in the shorter formats of the game.

Malinga has been an asset to his Indian T20 League franchise Mumbai, who owe a large chunk of their success to the Lankan pacer. His best performance for Mumbai came in the 2011 edition when he finished as tournament's leading wicket-taker with 28 wickets. Malinga was also a part of the Big Bash League in Australia with Melbourne Stars where he bowled a blistering spell, picking up 6 wickets, conceding 7 runs in 4 overs against Perth Scorchers, his personal best T20 figures as well as the best figures in T20s on Australian soil.

After retiring from Tests, 'Slinga' continued to be the strike bowler for Sri Lanka in the limited-overs format. His biggest success came in 2014 when he led Sri Lanka to their first World T20 triumph, defeating India in the finals, a fitting send-off to Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who played their final T20I.

With age catching up and issues with his fitness, Malinga let go his captaincy ahead of Sri Lanka's 2016 World T20 campaign. He spent his time outside the squad more than inside due to his injuries. Lasith was appointed as the bowling mentor by the Mumbai franchise in 2018 and the following year, won them their 4th trophy playing as a bowler.

Participating in his last ODI World Cup in 2019, Lasith Malinga wasn't at his usual best but still emerged as the most successful bowler for Sri Lanka. Post that event, Lasith Malinga announced his retirement from ODI cricket and got a winning farewell against Bangladesh.

The Lankan board appointed Malinga as the captain of the T20I squad to face New Zealand in 2019. The veteran however failed to inspire Sri Lanka to a series win, his heroics in the last T20I reminded one and all why he's one of the best going around in the business. On that record-making evening, Lasith became the first bowler to take 100 international wickets in T20Is and also picked up his fifth international hat-trick, the most by any bowler. Also, Malinga grabbed four wickets in four consecutive balls, a feat only achieved by Rashid Khan in this format. Targeting the 2020 World T20, Sri Lanka would be hoping for Malinga to revive their fortunes.

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