Veteran Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga turned to off-spin during a recent domestic limited-overs game in the island nation. Captaining Teejay Lanka, the 34-year old managed to pick up three wickets with his slippery off-breaks against LB Finance in the final of the 25th Singer MCA ‘A’ division knockout tournament at MCA grounds in Colombo.
Operating from a short run-up with the wicket-keeper up to the stumps, the seasoned campaigner delivered sizzling off-breaks with his trademark slingy action and left LB Finance’s batting lineup in a state of utter bewilderment. The experienced pacer’s dramatic shift to spin was precipitated by the need to hurry through the overs amidst overcast weather. His three-wicket haul propelled Teejay Lanka to a comfortable 82-run victory on the Duckworth-Lewis method as well as the accompanying ‘A’ division title for the 2017/18 edition.
After going past 300 ODI wickets in the home series against India, Malinga was left out of the Sri Lankan squad in the recently completed 5-match series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The stalwart was also one of the several senior stars who refused to tour Lahore for the final T20I. His decision consequently ruled him out of the entire 3-match T20I series of which the first couple of matches took place in Abu Dhabi.
The heart of the matter
Watch Lasith Malinga’s off-spin skills
After losing the toss on an unusually green-tinged pitch, Teejay Lanka slipped to 116/6 and were staring down the barrel. Sachithra Senanayake, who has represented Sri Lanka in 74 international matches across all three formats, put on a game-changing partnership with the unheralded Shalika Karunanayake. The duo’s rapid 101-run stand pushed their team to a formidable total.
Sri Lanka’s current batting star Kusal Mendis led LB Finance’s reply with a couple of smashing sixes. However, he succumbed to the wiles of Senanayake and soon a top-order collapse ensued. When it appeared like murky weather would have the final say, Teejay skipper Malinga ensured that the minimum requirement of 20 overs was completed by resorting to off-spin. After he had sliced through the middle-order to reduce LB Finance to 125/7 in 25 overs, the umpires called off play and Teejay Lanka clinched the title on Duckworth-Lewis method.
Teejay Lanka: 266 all out from 38.4 overs – Shalika Karunanayake 68, Sachithra Senanayake 67, Charith Sudharaka 2/39 and Sahan Arachchige 3/53
LB Finance: 125/7 from 25 overs – Sahan Arachchige 26, Kusal Mendis 24, Lasith Malinga 3/22 and Sachithra Senanayake 3/35
Result – Teejay Lanka won by 82 runs (D/L method)
Following a spate of poor performances during this year, Malinga’s international future appears to be in jeopardy. After being overlooked for the ODI series against Pakistan, it remains to be seen if the Sri Lankan selectors bring him back for the upcoming 3-match ODI series in India. The limited-overs leg of Sri Lanka’s trip to India, also comprising of 3 T20Is, is slated to begin on December 10.