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Shirin Sadikot in Chennai 05 April 2012 - 03:05am IST

We focused on our strengths: Malinga

MI pacer credits strong bowling attack for win against CSK

It is hard to recall a Mumbai Indians victory without a significant contribution from Lasith Malinga. Such has been the impact of the slinger from Sri Lanka. The opening match of IPL 2012 was no exception. The yorker specialist once again lived up to his reputation as MI defeated the Chennai Super Kings in their own backyard.

However, true to his policy of keeping it simple, Malinga played down the act of defeating the defending champions on their home ground.

“We went into the ground focusing on our strengths and our capabilities and tried to give our best. We were not thinking about who the opposition was,” Malinga said with typical nonchalance in his exclusive chat with iplt20.com after the comprehensive eight-wicket win in Chennai.

Malinga was the pioneer of MI’s inspirational triumph in the 2011 CLT20, being the highest wicket-taker for his team in that tournament. The final was played on this very ground – the Chepauk – and Malinga picked up two crucial wickets in that game.

He reminisced those moments with pride and was happy to replicate his performance in the IPL season opener, on a wicket that has become more conducive to seam bowling than it was last September. “During the Champions League T20 there was a bit of turn in the wicket, but this time there isn’t much turn. It seems to have much more for the pacers,” he said.

While Malinga has been the spearhead of the MI bowling attack over the past seasons, this time he is in august company of two fellow former purple cap holders – RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Malinga believes MI has one of the most formidable bowling line-ups in the tournament. “We have a good bowling attack. Both RP and Ojha are very experienced and have taken a lot of wickets in the IPL,” he said.

Two world-class spinners, in Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha, supporting him at the other end on spin-friendly Indian tracks should have taken some pressure off him. Instead, the inimitable Sri Lankan pacer wants to be a shield to the spinners. “We all have to take responsibility. I bowl to take wickets and make the job easier for the spinners later on,” Malinga said.

With Sachin Tendulkar passing on the captaincy to Harbhajan Singh, for IPL 2012, MI has become one of the teams that are led by a bowler. Malinga said it helps when the captain understands the bowler’s mind. “Bhajji [Harbhajan Singh] knows my strengths and even I know what I can do. We always discuss about fields when I bowl. He is a good captain,” he said.

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