When Sri Lanka play Lasith Malinga, they hope that he has got up on the right side of the bed that morning. For when it’s Malinga’s day, there’s little the opposition can do to keep him from firing his lethal and slingy yorkers, almost at will — just like he did while winning the match for Sri Lanka against India on Monday.
But when Malinga doesn’t get it right, which has happened rather often since his bowling was shredded to pieces by Virat Kohli in Hobart a couple of years ago, his very presence in the playing eleven could seem like a gamble gone horribly wrong for the Sri Lanka think-tank. It can happen with any team that picks its fast bowlers loaded with just one overwhelming skillset. It happens with India time and again, at least everytime they field Varun Aaron in the playing eleven.
Aaron is fast; fast enough to consistently clock over 150 kmph in a limited overs match. As of now, very early into his career, it seems to be his own major weapon. On wickets where that pace benefits the oppostion batsmen more than him, his inclusion in the side can seem like a real big mistake. Ask Kohli, who perhaps still hasn’t forgotten the quick’s spell in the latter’s only appearance at the Asia Cup earlier this month. Against Bangladeh, Aaron went for 74 runs in 7.5 overs.
It took a Kohli century to save that match. But on Monday against Sri Lanka, Aaron sizzled it up and reaped the rewards — three overs, 18 runs and a wicket.
Aaron is still an unfinished product, but he has learnt to bowl a yorker and use a bouncer smartly. It may be progress enough for him to earn the faith of the skipper, considering the way fellow Jharkhandi and India captain MS Dhoni used him in India’s first warm-up tie.
He came on to bowl first-change — Lanka’s fourth over. The first ball to Kushal Perera was wide but the batsman failed to put bat to ball and completed a bye. Then he did better. His second delivery was full and quick. Tillakaratne Dilshan could only push it back. As Dilshan happily got off strike next ball, it was Perera’s turn to face the music. Beaten for pace immediately, Perera looked to clear Aaron over the infield but only ended up returning a catch at mid-off.
Over the next few balls, there were more misses than hits. Dilshan, one of the best pullers in the game, was too late into one and was smacked in the gloves by Aaron to complete his first over. When he came on to bowl his second over, Dilshan was once again on strike. He bowled five balls continued…