He walks, gets to the starting point, literally worships the ball, picks it, kisses them, runs like an eagle with its wings open, jumps to take his explosive strides at the crease, draw-cut but with the ball.
You hear gush, and within a blink, it’s all over. The ball knows where to hit; either kisses the stumps or the pads and now, the crowd erupts.
At times, he misses the yorker, and the ball goes for four. You will see the sigh of relief in the batsman’s face, you will see a smile that makes his eyes look tiny. He walks back, and the familiar scenes follow.
He doesn’t end with the yorker, there are slower yorker, a back of a length delivery, bouncers, slower bouncers. He does this as a routine.
Even the world’s most powerful batsmen have looked weaponless before him. Yes, there have been days where he was taken for plenty, but those are just days while he dominated them for years. Yes, there have been years where he was forced to sit out of the Sri Lankan team, but those are just years while he outclassed his opponents for more than a decade.
When Malinga bowls, the competition is between the stumps and the pads while the bat struggle between both. The struggle is real, and it’s tough.
Though the Lasith in the Malinga is gone now, the fear of Malinga is all enough for him to rattle the batsmen. The once best bowler of the limited overs cricket is now overshadowed by many of the youngsters, but no one bugs the batsmen like the thoughts of Malinga do even today, still, Malinga isn’t even the aggressor. People like him. Players want to be him. They even approach him for guidance, and he never says no. He teaches them with the smile on his face, talks to them about the bowling and stays there till they get it right. He keeps in touch with his students, and he will be the first to help them out when his students had a bad day. That’s what champions are made of, right?
Though he has slowed down with the years, the dedication of the game is all right there at his eyes. You can see a bit of aggression as well. Oh yes, the aggression is always been there; not with the players, but with his body.
Malinga, in his life, has never treated anyone poorly as he treats his body. He doesn’t really care about the number of bones and muscles he has damaged in his career. If his shoulders were a separate person, it would have been dead by now.
He is the best tactician in the team and knows how to bring the best from his players. At least the World Cup T20 win says so. The captaincy never bothered him though. Captain, Vice-captain or just a player, nothing changes with Malinga.
Though he doesn’t belong to the Sangakkaras, Jayawardanas, Muralis leagues, he sure has created one of himself now, and the league is all alone and literally, nobody belongs there other than Malinga and his bowling.
Image courtesy: ICC