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.
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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 at the Lankan opener and conceded just one run. Then, when Mahela Jayawardene faced the Indian speedster, he only managed a top-edge against a fiery bouncer. Two overs in the powerplay and Aaron’s figures read: 2-0-6-1. Seven of those were dots.
Alive at the death
Aaron was brought back in the death, for his third and final over. Against Thisara Perera, a powerful hitter, he brought out the yorker. And to Nuwan Kulasekara, he bowled fast and short. When Kulasekara swung and connected one for six, Aaron had conceded his only boundary on Monday. It arrived of his 17th ball.
It is easy to see why the selectors have added Aaron in the mix. He is still very young (24), fast and can be quite a handful when he isn’t spraying it around. Yes, he is far from being the complete package that India desperately need in their pace department. But if he can consistently perform like he did on Monday, the Indian think-tank will be certain that Aaron is a gamble worth taking.
After Dhoni gives batting a skip, India falter in chase by 5 runs
Mirpur: India’s batting woes continued in familiar conditions as they lost their opening warm-up tie against Sri Lanka by five runs in Mirpur on Monday.
Batting first, Sri Lanka scored 153 for six and then bowled out India for 148 in exactly 20 overs. Needing 12 off the last over bowled by Lasith Malinga, Indians could get only six as the Lankan slinger finished with figures of 4/30 from four overs. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not bat in this unofficial match.
Ravichandran Ashwin’s all-round show (3/22 and 19 runs) was the lone bright spot in the opening encounter.
India were off to a disastrous start as Shikhar Dhawan (2) played a lazy shot off Kulasekara to hole out at mid-off while Rohit Sharma (4) was caught at the deep mid-wicket off Malinga. Raina looked more comfortable on a low-bounce track as he played those customary lofted shots.
He was looking good for a big one as he smacked five fours and a six. But fell to Ajantha Mendis before reaching his 50.
Yuvraj Singh hit two sixes and two fours in his 28-ball stay at the crease. But once he fell, it was difficult for India’s lower order and tail to finish the game. (PTI)
Brief scores: SL 153/6 (M Jayawardene 30, D Chandimal 29; R Ashwin 3/22) bt Ind 148 all out (S Raina 41, Y Singh 33; L Malinga 4/30, N Kulasekara 2/37)