Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay – Lasith Malinga is born - slinging his way to white-ball glory
August 28, 1983 - When Lasith Malinga first burst onto the international scene in 2004, it was his action which stood out.
But, several bowlers with unorthodox actions have come into the game and lasted not longer than a year before the cricketing world forgets about them entirely. However, it was the talent that came along with the action, which made Lasith Malinga so popular.
He picked up six wickets in his first-ever international appearance - a test match against Australia in Australia - one of the toughest gigs in international cricket. Malinga bagged four scalps in his next game to finish a successful tour.
The going was not that impressive in ODIs for Malinga as he managed just 7 wickets in his first 8 ODIs. The tour of England in 2006 brought better bowling performances from him and that became a launchpad which would see Malinga go on to play 226 ODIs for Sri Lanka and become one of the most successful white-ball bowlers with 338 wickets at 28.87, a strike rate of 32.3 and an economy of 5.35.
Malinga has taken 8 5-wicket hauls and 11 4-wicket hauls in ODI cricket but what stands out is his propensity to pick up wickets off consecutive deliveries. Not only does he have 3 ODI hat-tricks and 2 T20 hat-tricks but has also picked up four wickets in four balls i.e double hat-trick twice.
After an exciting start to his test career, Malinga could not sustain the success as he retired from the format in April 2011 after playing just 30 test matches. He picked up over 100 wickets in those games at an average of 33.15 with the best of 5/50.
It was chronic injuries that led Malinga to take the decision, particularly the knee injuries. The decision was taken to prolong his white-ball carrier and Malinga has been successful in that regard. He ultimately retired from ODI cricket, post the 2019 World Cup, after a game against Bangladesh at home.
Malinga has been an integral part of the Mumbai Indians franchise in the Indian Premier League as well and has done wonders for the franchise over the years, so much so that despite declining physical shape and pace, the franchise has decided to retain the bowler for IPL 2020.
After Lasith Malinga assumed the responsibility of Mumbai Indians' bowling mentor for one season in the IPL, most in the cricketing fraternity thought that his playing career was over. His body looked out of shape and the paceman did not seem fit enough to continue in top-drawer leagues across the world, let alone the 50-over format in international cricket.
However, Malinga reiterated that champions are made of different stuff as he made a comeback not only in the IPL but in international cricket and shouldered Sri Lanka's bowling attack in the 2019 World Cup.
Even in his last ODI against Bangladesh at home, Malinga was the most successful Sri Lankan bowler with three wickets at an economy of under four. How many bowlers manage such impressive figures in their last ODI?
The champion bowler got an amazing reception as he said goodbye to the 50-over format in front of his home crowd. Malinga plans to continue playing the T20Is and intends to hang his boots from all formats after the next T20 World Cup.
However, with the T20 World Cup having been postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it would be interesting to see whether or not Malinga is successful in maintaining his form and fitness. There is a sense that the slinger might have already played his last international game.
© Cricket World 2020