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Veteran MI pacer cherishes maiden IPL title, 100-plus wickets
By Harsh Kalan
Kolkata 27 May 2013
Over the last few years, Lasith Malinga’s name has been synonymous with theMumbai Indians. The Sri Lankan Slinger has been the sharpest weapon in the MI arsenal with all the timely, unplayable yorkers that he is known to dish out.
However, this year Slinga Malinga had a relatively sedate season as per his own high standards. But come the IPL 2013 final, the veteran pacer did not disappoint. Eager to nudge his side over the line, Malinga gave MI the kind of start they had grown accustomed to in previous seasons. “Until this match, I did not do anything for the team. So, I am really happy I did something special today in the first over itself,” said Malinga about the two crucial wickets – of Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina – he claimed up front.
According to the pacer, his bowling had somehow not clicked this season until the big game on Sunday. “Nothing much was different today. I had tried to do everything till now but I did not get good results. I always try to do my best, and that is why I feel great that I did something for the team today,” said an ecstatic Malinga.
His excitement was of course resulting from the fact that after coming close in previous years, MI were finally able to strike gold in the IPL. “It is a really good feeling. The thing is that over the past few years we have tried very hard but did not get the cup. But today that we have won it, I am really happy,” he said.
Malinga also made a special mention of all the MI fans, who are known to drown the Wankhede Stadium with rhythmic chants of ‘Malinga,’ ‘Malinga’ every time their curly-haired hero comes on to bowl. “The fans there love cricket. I really like playing in India so much. I have been really happy playing for the Mumbai Indians,” he said.
While Malinga may have blown hot and cold this season, he still managed to become the first bowler in the IPL to cross the 100-wicket mark. “I am really happy that I have played in the IPL for five years. I have 103 wickets now and I am the first bowler in the IPL to get to 100 wickets. Every year I am getting 20-odd wickets and I am just happy about my performance overall,” said Malinga, who got 20 scalps this year as well.
This season of IPL has seen some superlative cricketing performances with bat, ball and in the field. And some of the most entertaining ones have come from the swaggering Caribbean contingent.
Be it Chris Gayle’s incredible willow-wielding, Dwayne Bravo dancing his way to the purple cap or Kieron Pollard plucking those stunners out of thin air – the Caribbean magic was on full view for the last two months.
Two of the West Indians kept their region’s flag flying high till the very end of the tournament. Dwayne Smith and Pollard played significant roles in taking theMumbai Indians to their maiden IPL title, with a 23-run win over Chennai Super Kingsat the Eden Gardens.
Smith, one half of the opening pair that replaced the Sachin Tendulkar-Ricky Ponting duo, scored 418 runs in 13 matches with four fifties. He couldn’t take the smile off his face, chatting to iplt20.com as part of the Pepsi IPL 2013 winning team. Smith spoke about the promises he made with his Caribbean mates and how they fulfilled them.
Isn’t this what you have been waiting to experience in your career?
Yes. I watched the team lose the 2010 final and tonight I am so glad to be part of the winning team. Before the game I was talking to (Kieron) Pollard that one of us has to be the Man of the Match today. When I got out, I told him, ‘I didn’t do it so you will have to win this for us and I know you will.’ He came out trumps and I love that.
Where does this IPL triumph stand in your career?
Oh, it’s up there. This is my first major final that I’ve played in and I’ve come out as a winner. I’m so happy.
You didn’t do it today but you were a key performer for the team throughout the season.
Replacing the Tendulkar-Ponting pair at the top of the order I had nothing to lose. I just had to go out there, back myself and be positive in everything I do. It came good at times and I’m glad it resulted in us winning the tournament.
How was it being captained by one of the most successful international captains, in Ricky Ponting?
It was amazing. Even when he wasn’t playing he always had something positive to say and that helped the team to no end. He was always involved, was out on the field during every strategic timeout and he kept us all together.
How has it been working with John Wright?
Apart from him being really nervous during the games, he’s been very good. He’s very inspirational and it’s been great working with not only him but the entire leadership group including Ponting, Kumble, Jonty Rhodes and Robin Singh.
The West Indian guys have rocked this IPL!
Yes, at the beginning of the tournament I talked to Chris (Gayle) and we said, ‘at least one of us has to make it to the final and make we end up winning’. It’s good to fulfill that promise and I am glad that all the West Indian players have performed well throughout.
Will the Caribbean boys plan a grand IPL party back home?
Some of the guys will go to the England for the Champion Trophy and I go back to Barbados and then join Sussex later in June. But hopefully some day we can all come together, talk about the IPL and celebrate together.
Have you worked on your dance moves for the victory party?
We West Indians don’t have to work on our dance moves because we always have them!