IPL 2019, Qualifier 1: Lasith Malinga can prove to be Mumbai Indians' X-factor against Chennai Super Kings
Chennai Super Kings are gearing up to take on the Mumbai Indians at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, tonight in IPL Qualifier 1. A win for either team would ensure a straight ticket to the final. CSK would definitely be aware of the fact that MI have been the only team to breach their fortress this season. They were beaten hands down and moreover, they clearly missed the presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Mumbai Indians, apart from having big hitters such as Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya, also have a lot of variety in their bowling attack. The two spinners - Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar have been economical and have managed to pick up crucial wickets. The ever-reliable Jasprit Bumrah has always been Rohit Sharma's trump card and the skipper has used him wisely. Bumrah's ability to nail the yorkers has indeed managed curtail the runs of the opposition. But one bowler who has time and again delivered consistent performances across several seasons for Mumbai is Lasith Malinga.
The ageing Malinga has continuously worked on his bowling, developing several variations and castling the batsmen. Though he has lost out on his ability to bowl the toe crushing yorkers on a regular basis, Malinga still foxes the batsmen with his clever change of pace.
In their last league match of the season against the Kolkata Knight Riders, Malinga picked up three wickets bowling from around the wicket. He scalped the dangerous Andre Russell for a golden duck. It would be difficult for the batsmen to spot the slinging action from around the wicket. In fact after the match, Mumbai Indians' coach Mahela Jayawardene said that, "We have been working on it for a week or so, trying to create a different angle because the batsmen (maybe used) getting used to him."
Malinga is certainly a force to reckon with, especially at the time of the crucial playoffs. Against Chennai, he has a commendable record of picking up 30 wickets with an economy rate of under 7.
Playing only 10 games this season for Mumbai, it has not been a smooth ride for Malinga. In the initial stages of the tournament he had to shuttle between India and Sri Lanka in order to strike a balance between the IPL and Super Provincial Limited One Day Tournament back home. But now that he is back, he would be hoping to end the season on a high.
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