Lasith Malinga © AFP
Lasith Malinga is the only bowler in One-Day Internationals cricket to capture four wickets in consecutive deliveries © AFP

Lasith Malinga, born on August 28, 1983, is one of the most dangerous bowlers in cricket today. The Sri Lankan slinger has terrorised batsmen with his yorkers, coming from that peculiar action that took the world by storm. Nishad Pai Vaidya finds 10 little known facts about Malinga.

Lasith Malinga is a once in a lifetime bowler. With an action that is difficult to emulate, Malinga has carved a niche for himself and become one of the most dangerous limited overs bowlers in international cricket. The man who has a penchant for yorkers comes from a humble background from a small village to make it to the biggest stage in cricket. Today, he is perhaps the most sought after bowler in T20 cricket with the advent of numerous leagues around the globe. Here are 10 little known facts about Malinga.

1. Malinga started playing cricket at the age of 11 in his village of Rathgama, near Galle. Playing soft-ball cricket on the beach, he claims that his weird action is natural. It was only during his late teens that he started bowling with the cricket ball.

2. Malinga made his First-Class debut for Galle Cricket Club in 2001 at the age of 17. In his first match, he picked up a total of eight wickets. That game featured his future teammates Jehan Mubarak and Prasanna Jayawardene.

3. It is said that Malinga was taken to the Sri Lankan nets to bowl in 2001, but was stopped from bowling for fear of causing injuries. The Guardian reported Aravinda de Silva as saying, “Around about the time we were getting ready for the 2003 World Cup I heard there was this young pace-bowler new in Colombo and how no one really wanted to bat against him, certainly none of the seniors. So I had to have a go.”

4. Champaka Ramanayke and Rumesh Ratnayke have been Malinga’s mentors through his young days. In an interview with Cricinfo, Malinga said that Ramanayake tried to change his action, but was unsuccessful. Hence, they had to settle for the slinging action!

5. Malinga has dismissed Bradman! No, it isn’t Sir Donald Bradman of course. However, a Sri Lankan First-Class cricketer called Prince Bradman Ediriweera. He dismissed him in a List A game in 2003 and then got him again in a First-Class encounter in 2004.

6. On the tour to New Zealand in 2005, Malinga was so devastating that the home side had a problems sighting the ball. Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand captain had asked the umpires to remove their ties as they would often lose the ball as it came an awkward angle. The umpires were also asked to tie a white jersey around their waist so that the batsmen sight it better. Though Steve Bucknor complied with this, Darrel Hair refused. “We found it extremely tough when he bowled a certain line and length to pick him up. We’ve asked for the uniforms to be changed. The umpires are there to help, not hinder. I know it’s tradition that they wear that colour, but this circumstance is pretty unique,” Fleming was quoted by the media.

7. During the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, Malinga made a mark on the world stage and became a known figure in cricket. He had then honed that hairstyle that has become his identity, the long curls streaked with colour. It was during that World Cup that he was named as the sexiest man in cricket by a Barbados-based magazine named Easy. Malinga won accolades for his cricket during that World Cup, but this one may have been the least expected one.

8. Malinga has dismissed seven batsmen, six times in international cricket. That list includes big names such as Sachin Tendulkar, Shahid Afridi, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Shane Watson. However, he has been most successful against Bangladesh batsmen Shahriar Nafees and Javed Omar. Nafees fell to Malinga six times in 11 matches, whereas Omar was dismissed six times in seven matches.

9. Malinga was a part of the highest ninth-wicket partnership in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). Along with Angelo Mathews, he put up 132 against Australia at Melbourne in 2010 to help Sri Lanka win from a hopeless situation.Chasing 240 to win, Sri Lanka were 107 for eight when the pair got together. Malinga scored 56 and was dismissed with a run required for victory.

10. Malinga is the only bowler with three hat-tricks in ODIs, two of those hat-tricks have come in World Cup games, also a world record. In 2007, he took four wickets in four balls against South Africa, becoming the only bowler to do so. In 2011, he picked up a hat-trick against Kenya in a World Cup game in Colombo. His third hat-trick came against Australia later that year.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)