Talk about toe-crushing yorkers, and the first name that invariably comes to mind is Lasith Malinga. His bleached hair and piercings, though, sometimes eclipse his sling-shot bowling too! In India, the Sri Lankan pacer is seen as the man behind Jasprit Bumrah’s rise. The two are teammates at Mumbai Indians, and Bumrah has always been vocal about the influence Malinga has had on him. Cricket.com caught up with the veteran for a quick chat on topics ranging from his brilliant spell in the IPL 2019 final to the relevance of T10 cricket, where he is currently playing for the Maratha Arabians. Here are a few excerpts.
Q: Do you think T10 is a great format for the Olympics? What is it like to bowl with the new ball in T10 where every over feels like a death over?
I don’t think this is a great format for the Olympics but I think all international players can develop skills from this format. As far as bowling is concerned, every over does feel like a death over so T10 is all about how you set the field for the batsman. That’s the most important thing. You have to know where you are going to bowl, which area the batsman can hit 70%-80% runs in and accordingly set the field. In this format you cannot stop the damage, you can just try and control it.
Q: How does it feel when people in India felicitate you for grooming Jasprit Bumrah?
I am really happy to have helped someone while I am still playing international cricket, and he is the World No. 1 bowler now. Happy to have given him tips which make him recognise my contribution in his career. I think everyone should share their experience and expertise with young players so that cricket is the eventual winner. Jasprit might have options better than me too for getting inputs; he has the kind of brain which can collect and work on all advises he gets. It is evident from how he executes his yorkers and slower balls, it is just unbelievable how he does it. He is very hungry to learn.
Q: How do you look back on your ODI career? Best and worst memories?
Among the worst memories will be Sri Lanka’s loss to India in Adelaide in 2012 when they scored 320-340 something and I missed my lengths and could not execute my plans. And then the World T20 final that same year, I tried my best but couldn’t perform well. These two matches remain big disappointments but besides that, I am very happy with whatever I have done for Sri Lankan cricket. Among the best memories will definitely be the four wickets against England in the 2019 World Cup followed by the Man of the Match award. I proved to the Sri Lankan team management that I can perform even at this age. Also, the Asia cup match against Bangladesh last year, the one in which I made a comeback after 18 months, that also remains special. I took four wickets in ten overs and gave away only 23 runs. After a year and a half, I made a comeback to the team and showed them (the selectors) that I can still win games for Sri Lanka. I gave them a good fight and proved myself.
Q: Tell us about the final over of IPL 2019. Does that remain the best moment for you in the tournament?
At this age when I am ending my career, it felt good. In the first five balls of the over I clocked at around 140 kmph and the last ball was around 118 to 120 kmph. People ask me how and why I made the decision to bring down my pace when CSK needed two runs from one ball. It was because I needed a wicket and I felt that a slower ball could do the trick for me. That was by far the most exciting over of my IPL career.