Where there is Lasith Malinga,excitement cant be too far behind. The maverick with the curly golden locks,pierced eyebrows and slingshot action is back,having spent the last two weeks sitting impatiently before his television set watching Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh tear the Lankan bowling attack to shreds. Returning to the field in Tuesdays Twenty20 match against India after a 12-month break,he is now eager to reset the equation.
But Malinga doesnt know whether he will be as lethal as he was before his break,because of a surgery on his right knee. I am waiting to see the readings on the speedometer. I am quite excited to know what it shows, he said on Monday.
I cant wait to go out there,mark my run-up and bowl at top speed. I understand that theres a lot of hype about me bowling to Sehwag,Yuvraj and Gautam Gambhir,but I really never care about the batsman or his reputation. To me it means nothing whos batting against me. I have made my preparations,and when I run in Ill be thinking about where I have to pitch it and what pace I have to bowl. I dont think about how the batsman will react.
Twenty20 cricket is considered the toughest test for the bowler,but Malinga is confident hell wade through its murky waters. Theres nothing sweeter than wearing the national colours again,irrespective of what format. I have been training hard,playing club cricket,and I know exactly what has to be done. One has to get the basics right because the pressure is really on the batsmen, he said.
His skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan is equally excited about the fast bowlers inclusion in the team. Hes looking in good form,having bowled a lot in club cricket. This Twenty20 match will give him an opportunity to bowl just four overs at full throttle to test himself at the international level, Dilshan said.
It was a difficult time away from cricket for Malinga. For weeks,he couldnt walk without crutches,he couldnt train for long,and he even lost the central contract,which was restored by political intervention after a bitter outcry against the Sri Lankan boards high-handedness.
Malinga missed the inaugural IPL but will be seen in action in the second edition with the Mumbai Indians. The IPL was good fun to watch,and very popular. Itll be great to finally play in it, he said. When asked about his T20 strategy for Tuesday,Malingas simply said: I just want to take wickets. Thats the plan.