"Yes!" replied Malinga. It was a confident, assured response. No mincing of words. The question Mike Haysmen asked the Man of the Match was, "Going to be partying tonight?" Malinga had just bowled a sensational spell where he took four wickets for 22 runs.
Lasith ‘The Slinga’ Malinga has been a potent weapon in the Mumbai Indians bowling department this season, and the last; In every season he has appeared for them. With 10 wickets under his belt in the current tournament he has risen up the wicket taker’s list to become the second highest wicket taker. He is only second to the great Muttiah Muralitharan.
Looks great for Sri Lanka doesn’t it ahead of the upcoming ICC Twenty20 World Championships? Three bowlers amongst the highest wicket takers at the IPL? What more could we ask for? Small problem though… Vaas isn’t in the squad for the World T20 and Malinga has failed to impress, in recent times, when playing for Sri Lanka.
Some criticism of skipper Sangakkara here is justifiable. To see Malinga get clipped through mid-wicket when an attempted yorker ends up as a full toss on the legs, is annoying. What is Sangakkara thinking? We saw it through Sri Lanka’s 2009 tour to India. Thoughtless field placings can render a bowler of Malinga’s ability completely useless. The yorker being one of his main wicket taking deliveries, cover on the on-side should be provided even during the powerplays. That’s called being positive. Not trying switch hits, falling face down, and getting stumped when your side is 98/4 (video here).
Over 14.2: Gayle to Sangakkara, OUT, Sangakkara’s gone in clumsy fashion and KXIP are going down in the same way here. Fired straight again, Sanga goes for a reverse sweep, misses and over-balances, Saha collects the ball, and Sanga takes a tumble as the bails are whipped off. Sanga ended up on the ground, and walked away before the third umpire made a decision
Sachin Tendulkar has shown us that Lasith Malinga is an accurate, attacking wicket-taker. Whereas under Sangakkara, Malinga look expensive, wayward, erratic, and unpredictable. Some would argue that Malinga bowled well under Sangakkara’s captaincy at the ICC World Twenty20 Championships 2009 in England. But since then Sri Lanka is yet to see the consistency he has displayed for Mumbai. One has to question just how much it has to do with the way he is handled by skipper Sangakkara?
For reasons best known only to the Sri Lankan skipper and the selectors, Sri Lanka dropped Malinga citing poor form on their last international tour. The squad for the Tri-Nation Tournament in Bangladesh (2009/10) saw the selectors leave Malinga out of the squad citing poor form. However, Sri Lanka went on to win that Tri-Series beating India in the final by four wickets; Sangakkara was full of praise for the selectors at the end of that tour. But from what we have seen for two years running at the IPL, Sri Lanka is a poorer team without Malinga’s sensational performances.
Poor form or poor leadership? Makes you wonder doesn’t it? Makes you think long and hard about it when you see how Sachin Tendulkar utilises Malinga and provides him with field placings that transforms him from an expensive bowler to a wicket taking one.
In this post from December 2009 I mentioned that we were wasting Malinga in the Test arena. Recently we witnessed how Sangakkara and the selectors sidelined him on our last ODI tour. Is it a matter of time we see him out of T20s too? This talented young man should not be missing any games for his nation at the peak of his career.