Devon Smith of West Indies is bowled by Lasith Malinga during the 2011 ICC World Cup warm up match between Sri Lanka and West Indies at R. Premadasa Stadium on February 15, 2011 in Colombo, Sri Lanka © Getty Images
Devon Smith of West Indies is bowled by Lasith Malinga during the 2011 ICC World Cup warm up match between Sri Lanka and West Indies at R. Premadasa Stadium on February 15, 2011 in Colombo, Sri Lanka © Getty Images

 

By Suneer Chowdhary

 

Lasith Malinga’s bowling for the Mumbai Indians against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday took me back to Mohammad Azharuddin’s playing day. It’s believed, Azhar practiced 150-200 catches every day to sharpen his fielding skills, much like Malinga does today honing his skills to perfect the yorkers. Malinga, it is said, keeps a shoe at the crease during nets session to simulate a batsman’s feet and practises for long stretches the dreaded yorkers. And, boy, is that a weapon!

 

What makes his yorkers lethal is the pace at which he bowls them. At 125 kmh, the batsmen have ample time to adjust to such deliveries, even get under the ball and deposit them on to the spectator banks. Crank it up by another 15 kmh, and suddenly it’s a different ball game! There is a sense of impending doom when the ball is in Malinga’s hand and as he tears towards the batsman.

 

The unorthodox, sing-shot action only heightens the batsman’s misery. At that pace and that kind of action, accuracy, but Malinga is a marvel and a trump card that any captain would love to have, especially at the death. Control is Maliga’s forte.

 

Injuries have put a spanner in his work as far as pace is concerned, but he is still one of the most dreaded pacemen in the world, as he showed on Sunday. He has certainly inspired a future generation of fast bowlers, especially in Sri Lanka where Muttiah Muralitharan did much for the art of spin bowling.

 

In an interview at the end of this IPL game between the Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils, Malinga was categorical in his assessment – he said that he did not fear any batsman, whether it was Virender Sehwag or anyone else. It gives a sense of déjà vu considering Sehwag, in the past, has had said the same about bowlers!

 

Interestingly, not only did Malinga get the better of Sehwag in the final of the World Cup but also made the slashing batsman play forced him to play out a maiden in a T20 game. In Sehwag’s own words, this was probably the first maiden over that he has played out in 10 years. Sehwag claimed that he needed to see out Malinga’s spell, apart from protecting the batsmen at the other end, who wasn’t a No 9, 10 or Jack, but a respectable opening batsman from Victoria, Aaron Finch!

 

The Sehwag-Malinga face-off is getting interesting – a face-off between the world’s fearless batsman against the world’s most fearless bowler! Watch out for their next encounter!

 

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)