Why has Lasith Malinga become rusty?

The talented Lasith Malinga has been plagued by injuries of late
The talented Lasith Malinga has been plagued by injuries of late

A slinging action and the sensational accuracy made Lasith Malinga a nightmare for batsmen across the world. His unconventional bowling action is difficult to cope up with while his toe crushing yorkers are simply too hot handle.

As a result, the Sri Lankan bowler wrecked batting orders across the world and was hailed as one of finest bowlers in the limited overs format. From 2011 to 2015, he claimed 183 wickets in 113 innings and was the leading wicket-taker in the world. He was miles ahead of the second ranked bowler Saeed Ajmal (140 wickets) and his variations which included deadly yorkers and slower ones made him a massive threat in death overs.

However, after staying away from cricket in 2016 due to injuries, the pace bowler has become rusty in ODIs. In nine matches in 2017, he has claimed only seven wickets and his average has skyrocketed to 61.71 which more than double of his career bowling average.

His bowling looks toothless and now batsmen no more fear him when he comes into bowl. What has led to Malinga's downfall? We find out.

#5. Frequent injuries

Fast bowlers and injuries are inseparable. The process of running in and bowling with a systematic action is cumbersome and it takes a heavy toll on the body. Hence, most fast bowlers go through several injuries during their careers.

Malinga's unconventional bowling action puts more stress on his back and hence, he always carries with him the threat of an injury. The same reason forced the Sri Lankan pacer to cut short his Test career and now it is also affecting his bowling performances.

The injuries have prevented Malinga from playing cricket in 2016 and thus have interrupted his bowling rhythm. Plus, due to the injuries, he is unable to push himself to the extent of his capabilities.

This inability in performing to his 100% has severely affected Malinga's performances and has resulted in his downfall.

#4. The response from the batsmen

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To make the game more exciting and appealing to the masses, cricket administrators have titled the balance of the game in the favor of batsmen. Fielding restrictions, smaller grounds, and heavy bats have already made batting relatively easy and in the last couple of years, this shift has only gained pace.

Plus the batsmen have increased their armory by introducing innovative strokes. This has made bowling a tough task and along with other bowlers, Malinga is facing the heat of this development.

Yorkers which is the primary weapon of Malinga has lost its importance as batsmen nowadays are constantly moving in their crease and hence pinning them at one place becomes almost impossible.

The reverse sweeps and scoop shots turn yorkers into fill-toses and thus neutralize its threat.This response from the batsmen has also led to the Malinga's mediocre performances.


#3. The age factor

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The ugly truth of the human body is that it decays with time. It is impossible to neutralize the body changes that occur with age. And currently, Malinga is going through this phase.

The right-arm bowler is 33-years-old and is been bowling continuously since the last one decade. This has affected his body and with age, his body has now slowly started to show signs of rustiness.

The age factor plays a crucial role in cricket as players find it difficult to move their bodies the way they want to. Malinga too is facing the same challenges. To perform according to his potential, he needs support from the body which won't be possible in future.

If anything, Malinga's body would continue to deteriorate and hence he will find it difficult to repeat his past exploits.

#2. Failure to innovate

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Malinga is not a traditional bowler who thrives on line and length or massive seam movement. His ace weapon is his surprise element. He emerged in international cricket with his awkward and unorthodox bowling action, which was surprising for batsmen.

Later, he added the toe-crushing yorker in his variations which dipped dangerously onto the batsmen and reaped heavy success with it. During the first half of this decade, he learned the art of delivering slower ones accurately and outfoxed the batsmen.

However, in the last couple of years, there has been no addition to his bowling abilities. His skills have become redundant and batsmen across the world have decoded his weapons.

The yorkers and slower deliveries have become common and bowlers now are working on the knuckle ball or bowling by using the crease and angles. However, the Sri Lankan pacer hasn't upped the ante and he operates with the same skills and weapons.

#1. The rise of prolific batsmen

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Malinga's success depends on the response from the batsmen. He doesn't create anything on his own and waits for the batsmen to fall into the trap. This approach yielded sterling results in the early part of his career as batsmen during that era were mostly one-dimensional.

However, the modern batsmen bring with them new skills and approach to the crease. Boldness has become a mandatory virtue and most batsmen are willing to risk their wicket and aren't afraid of playing their strokes.

This counter-attacking attitude has seriously dented Malinga's performances as he thrives on the defensive mindset of the batsmen. Batsmen like Virat Kohli, David Warner, and Azar Ali have changed the dynamics of batting and their prolific attitude has costed Malinga his reputation.

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