Despite picking up 4 for 26, which helped his team avoid what would have been a mortifying defeat at the hands of the United Arab Emirates, the Sri Lankan captain offered self-depreciating remarks about his own performance.
Returning from an injury layoff that kept him out of cricket for close to three months, the veteran fast bowler eked out the wicket of Rohan Mustafa off the very first ball of his comeback. He would clean bowl Mohammed Shazad off the last ball of his first over, reducing the Arabian team to 7 for 2 in the very first over, a setback from which they never returned.
Batting first Sri Lanka could only muster 129 runs off their allotted 20 overs, but the ace pacer made sure that the odds didn’t turn topsy-turvy. Malinga was awarded the man of the match, quite pertinently for his game-changing performance, but that didn’t make the captain happy.
“I am not happy [with my performance today],” Malinga told the reporters during the press conference. “I haven’t bowled a single ball in the last three months. I just bowled in the nets in the last two days. I am happy with the result but I think I have to do more for the team. I will try my best in the next game. [This performance] is not my 100 percent, maybe 60-70 percent, but still I managed to bowl yorkers and slower balls. The team expects more than that from me.”
His comments about his own performance are a poignant irony when compared to what has been said about both Malinga and his team in the media in recent times. The slinger has had his commitments questioned in the past and very recently certain media were rife with match fixing allegations against the Sri Lankan team.
Malinga also acknowledged that he is in the twilight of his career and he might only last a few months or years. “I had a very bad injury in the knee. Same thing happened in 2008. I needed two years rest to recover. I had same injury in the other leg. This is not the right time to rest since we have the World T20. I am the experienced bowler in the T20 format. I have to use painkillers and injections, whatever I have to do [to play]. This is the end of my career so I want to do something for the team. I want to give my best in the last few years or maybe few months,” Malinga said nonchalantly.
Since undergoing a surgery in late 2014, Malinga’s life has been intertwined with painkillers and injections, and the committed veteran asserted that he would exhaust himself to the maximum for the sake of his team. Malinga also hinted that he would not mind relinquishing his captaincy, provided that he doesn’t click with the ball.
Flying in the face of injuries, Malinga still remains the best death bowler in cricket and his performance, albeit having dwindled in the last few years is still head and shoulders above that of the rest. Malinga, though not fully fit, is stoic enough to play through pain with painkillers and injections, and he would want to make sure that he goes all the way in what could turn out to be his last World T20.