Although Lasith Malinga finished as Sri Lanka’s best bowler with 12 wickets in seven matches, conceding 354 runs at the recently-concluded World Cup, the burly sling-arm pacer was far from his top form in the tournament.

Lasith Malinga
Lasith Malinga. Pic/AFP

In the World Cup opener against New Zealand, Malinga went for 84 runs in his 10 overs without a wicket at Christchurch. His performances dipped further against the Test-playing nations as the tournament progressed.

Except against B’desh...
Except against Bangladesh where he claimed 3-35, Malinga completely lost the plot against better teams like England (1-63), Australia (2-59) and South Africa (1-43). He only impressed against lower-rung teams like Afghanistan (3-41) and Scotland (2-29).

MI coach Ricky Ponting (left) listens to skipper Rohit Sharma during the media interaction yesterday.
MI coach Ricky Ponting (left) listens to skipper Rohit Sharma during the media interaction yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble

A lot depends on Malinga’s form for Mumbai Indians’ bowling to succeed. Hopes are pinned on him to bail the team out in the death overs.

However, Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting believes Malinga’s skills are most suited to T20 as compared to the 50-over format. “From what I saw of him last night (during a practice match on Saturday), he was a bit scratchy in his first over, but he finished it off well. He got his yorkers spot on.

“I believe where Malinga is in his career, he is best suited to T20 cricket. The skills that he has, the way he uses his slower balls and yorkers in T20 cricket is amazing,” Ponting said during a media interaction yesterday before departing to Kolkata for their IPL-8 opener against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8 at Eden Gardens.

MI skipper Rohit Sharma is also confident that Malinga will be back to his best. “He is an experienced campaigner and a dangerous bowler. He has proved it again and again over the years, especially for Mumbai Indians.

“When we won the 2013 championship, he played an integral part. He was the key wicket-taker for us that season. For someone like Malinga, it is just a matter of one game. I am sure he knows his body well. His work ethics are pretty good. I’m sure he’s raring to go,” said Rohit.

Four-fielder rule
Ponting said most fast bowlers went for runs in the World Cup because of the new four-fielders-outside-the-circle rule. “There are a lot of negative thoughts coming about Malinga after the World Cup. They (IPL and World Cup) are two different formats. Most bowlers went for runs (in the World Cup) because of the four-fielder rule. “We all know how hard he works. We are sure Malinga will get his skills right before we reach Kolkata,” Ponting concluded.