Speedster Lasith Malinga is undoubtedly one of the key components of ODI plans of Sri Lanka, who are currently trying to win back the reputation as one of the top international teams and arguably the best pace bowler in the world at the moment when considering the limited over game. It is a shame that he is retired from Tests because he brings a real spectacle to whatever the format he plays.
When he first came in to the Sri Lankan team for the tour of Australia in 2004, the world had hardly seen an action like his. He was not the typical fast bowler we have seen day in and day out. He was special but that specialty was limited to his action only. That’s why most people considered him as a hit and miss kind of a bowler and expected him to struggle to continue performing well. They had their reasons for their doubts because Malingas bowling action puts enormous amount of pressure on his body. In a time that fast bowlers with ordinary actions were struggling to cope with a amount of cricket that is being played, how can one expect him to keep repeating that extraordinary action for a long period of time. The physical aspect was not the only concern. There was the other problem of accuracy which was not necessarily a strength of his bowling. As one can expect with an action like that he was wayward at the best of times and with that slinging action it was never the easiest thing to land the ball on good areas consistently.
Looking back now, it astonishes to see how he has overcome those obstacles and his record in limited overs cricket speaks for himself. 167 ODI wickets at an average of 24 and a strike rate of 30. But the most impressive stat is his economy rate of under 5 runs an over which is remarkable for a bowler who has the most difficult action and for a bowler who almost all the time bowls at situations where batsmen are looking to step on the accelerator. 28 year old Sri Lankan also has managed to achieve milestones which were never seen before at international level. The most famous of those being his 4 wickets in 4 consecutive deliveries against South Africa at 2007 world cup and also he is the only bowler to have 3 international hat-tricks. For the upcoming CB series, Sri Lanka will need their leading strike bowler to fire from all cylinders for them to get back to winning ways. There is no doubt that his bag of tricks, including is most lethal toe crushing yokers will be needed to surmount batsmen like Micheal Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar. It will be an interesting battle so let’s not miss the slinga in action.