The shortest format of cricket wasn’t designed to be kind to bowlers but Sri Lankan legend Lasith Malinga has shown us that those with the ball in hand are capable of making their presence felt in T20s. Malinga is the highest wicket-taker in the history of the Indian T20 League (Indian T20 League), with 170 scalps to his name.
His unmatched control and consistency in pressure situations are what sets him apart from the rest of the bowlers in T20s and here, we have a look at five of his best spells in the Indian T20 League – a tournament he’s won four times with Mumbai, as their pace spearhead and go-to man in crunch situations with the ball.
5-13 against Delhi (2011)
Indian T20 League 2011 was Malinga best in terms of wickets taken in a single season. The Sri Lankan pacer took 28 wickets during this edition at an average of 13.39 and an economy rate of 5.95. He also happened to record his career-best Indian T20 League figures in Mumbai’s away match against Delhi Capitals in this edition.
On fire from his very first over, Malinga got rid of the dangerous David Warner and Unmukt Chand in the second over of the game. His other victims in the match were Venugopal Rao, Morne Morkel and Ashok Dinda, whose was the last wicket to fall as Delhi were bundled out for 95 – a total that Mumbai didn’t have much trouble chasing down.
4-16 against Hyderabad (2012)
Malinga's 4-16 at the expense of Hyderabad came in the 2012 edition of the Indian T20 League. Another low-scoring match like it was in his best-ever Indian T20 League performance in the previous year, Malinga’s first scalp in the match was the opposition skipper Cameron White, who he sent back to the dugout for a first-ball duck.
He also made quick work of Hyderabad's tail, dismissing Amit Mishra in the 17th over and Dale Steyn as well as Veer Pratap Singh in the penultimate over of the innings to restrict them to 100 all-out. Needless to say, his spell once again helped set up an easy win for the most successful team in the Indian T20 League.
4-22 against Punjab (2010)
The Sri Lankan legend delivered one of his first bowling masterclasses in the Indian T20 League against Punjab in March 2010 with a Player of the Match performance. Introduced to the attack as Mumbai’s first change option, the right-arm fast bowler proceeded to do what he does best: pick up wickets at regular intervals without allowing the opposition batsmen to settle at the crease.
His pace and guile saw him dismiss Manvinder Bisla, Irfan Pathan, Shaun Marsh and Karan Goel as Punjab scored 163, which was chased down by Mumbai in what turned out to be a nail-biting finish.
4-23 against Kolkata (2014)
The only spell on this list that came in a losing cause, Malinga’s 4-23 against Kolkata helped restrict Gautam Gambhir’s men to 163-5. In a match where the rest of Mumbai’s bowlers struggled to be counted, Malinga led by example and accounted for the dismissals of Gambhir, Manish Pandey, Jacques Kallis and Shakib Al Hasan.
However, his efforts alone couldn’t change the complexion of the contest and ended up in vain as Kolkata restricted Mumbai to 122-7 to record a 41-run win.
4-23 against Hyderabad (2015)
Unlike Malinga’s 4-23 against Kolkata, his identical figures against Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2015 saw Mumbai emerge on the right side of the result. A Player of the Match performance, it’s the only spell on this list that came during a title-winning season for Mumbai.
After setting Hyderabad a target of 158 to chase, Malinga was introduced to the attack as Mumbai’s first chance with the ball. He picked up the all-important wicket of Hyderabad captain David Warner in the fifth over and went on to dismiss Hanuma Vihari, Praveen Kumar and Dale Steyn before helping his team to a 20-run win.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe