I didn't know how to bowl a yorker: Malinga
Lasith Malinga is anything but an enigma.
Whenever the 27-year-old speedster charges down the track, the batsman exactly knows what to expect -- in-swinging yorkers.
Yet he finds it difficult to negotiate the Sri Lankan quick.
Ask the Kenyan batsmen what went wrong at the Premadasa on Tuesday night, and the probability of getting an appropriate answer is remote.
Playing his first game in the tournament, having missed the opening two owing to lack of fitness, Malinga ripped apart the Kenyan batting, taking six wickets -- including a hat-trick, the latter making him the first bowler to take two in the World Cup and fourth overall in one-dayers -- after Wasim Akram, Saqlain Mushtaq and compatriot Chaminda Vaas.
About 80 per cent of those deliveries were yorker length. And with the ball reversing, it became an added advantage, eventually leading to a comprehensive result for Sri Lanka.
Image: Lasith Malinga
Photographs: Getty Images
'Happy with the six wickets against Kenya'
Asked what makes his deliveries (read yorkers) so effective, Malinga's response was shocking. And certainly difficult to fathom.
"When I first came into the team, I didn't have any idea of how to bowl a yorker," said the bowler, a reply that was more of a shock.
"But I was taught how to bowl them by Champaka Ramanayake -- former Sri Lankan bowler and bowling coach -- and Rumesh Ratnayake (former fast bowler)," explained Malinga, adding, "I also watched Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis bowl and learnt a lot from them."
The response as to which of his performances till date he believes is the best was more on predictable lines. After all, who can forget those four-wickets-in-four-balls against South Africa at the Providence Stadium (Guyana) in the last World Cup?
"I rate that performance against South Africa as my best," admitted Malinga, adding, "But I am happy with the six wickets against Kenya, as it is also my career-best."
Image: Lasith Malinga
'When I feel I can't do anything for the team, I'll retire'
The effectiveness of his bowling has never been in doubt. However, on many occasions, question marks have been raised about his fitness -- some even doubting his longevity. Asked to explain the same, the bowler came up with an elaborate explanation.
"I didn't have much hopes of playing for a long time when I was coming into cricket," explained Malinga, adding, "My only aim was to contribute as much as I can to the team whenever I play.
"I have played for the national team for the past seven years. A lot of people have said that I would not be able to play for a long time. But I am happy to have done so."
The 27-year-old was also categorical as regards his future.
"I don't know how long I can play," he said, adding, "I believe I can still play Test cricket for a longer period.
"However, whenever I feel I can't do anything for the team, I will happily retire."
Image: Lasith Malinga after his hat-trick against Kenya