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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Lasith Malinga plagued by Sri Lanka’s dropped catches syndrome in India series

Lasith Malinga, who has struggled to be effective ever since his return to ODIs for Sri Lanka, has not been helped by the continued sloppy catching in the India series.

india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 Updated: Aug 23, 2017 17:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pallekele
Lasith Malinga failed to take a wicket in the first ODI against India in Dambulla and in the recent Champions Trophy 2017 in England, he picked up only three wickets in three games.
Lasith Malinga failed to take a wicket in the first ODI against India in Dambulla and in the recent Champions Trophy 2017 in England, he picked up only three wickets in three games.(AFP)

Sri Lanka are desperate to arrest their freefall as they grapple with transition and rank bad performances in this India series, but even past match-winner, Lasith Malinga, is not of much help.

He didn’t take a wicket in the first ODI in Dambulla on Sunday as India swept to a nine-wicket victory. Sri Lanka are in a dilemma as there is little experience in the pace department with Dhammika Prasad and Nuwan Pradeep injured and left-arm Vishwa Fernando having made his debut only on Sunday.

Lasith Malinga, the only bowler in ODI history to take four wickets in a row – versus South Africa in the 2007 World Cup – has largely plied his trade for Indian Premier League champions Mumbai Indians in the last few seasons.

ODI comeback

Criticised for poor fitness and not pushing himself for Sri Lanka, Malinga made his ODI return in the June ICC Champions Trophy, having played his previous game in November, 2015.

Malinga, who turns 34 on Monday, took just three wickets in three matches as Sri Lanka tumbled out in the group stage, despite beating eventual runners-up India. Losing a low-scoring game against Pakistan due to sloppy catching and fielding hurt.

Malinga returned 0/52 in Dambulla, but Sri Lanka interim head coach, Nic Pothas describing him as a “leader” in the dressing room on Saturday, ahead of the second ODI at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

“I don’t purely look at what Malinga can do with the ball but also what he does for the young bowlers in the change room. Lasith is a very, very valuable player for us. Yes, he hasn’t performed like the Lasith of a few years ago, but we could draw up a list of a whole host of players who are not performing like they were a few years ago.

Sloppy catching

Pothas pointed out catches dropped off Malinga. In nine matches this year, he has taken just seven wickets, but 12 catches have been put down off the bowler. He completed 200 ODIs in Dambulla and is two short of claiming 300 scalps.

In the Champions Trophy, three catches were put down off Malinga’s bowling as Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan, the eventual champions, by three wickets. Sri Lanka were eliminated in the group stage.

“I have run a few numbers,” Pothas said. “Since Champions Trophy, nine catches have been dropped off Malinga’s bowling.

“That game against Pakistan especially, he could have won it single-handedly if we had not dropped a few catches.”

In Dambulla, Shikhar Dhawan was dropped on 87 and 118, the second time off Malinga when the match was almost over.

Skipper Upul Tharanga too blamed poor catching for Malinga not being effective. “Malinga’s form has gone down from what it was 2-3 years ago, but any cricketer goes through this phase. He returned to ODI cricket after being out for about 18 months. Since then he has been unable to produce those match-winning performanaces mainly because catches have been dropped off his bowling.”

First Published: Aug 23, 2017 17:29 IST

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