Lasith Malinga, who will lead Sri Lanka cricket team in the fourth ODI against Indian cricket team in Colombo, and Zaheer Khan were teammates at Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.(Getty Images)
Sri Lanka cricket team pace spearhead Lasith Malinga has laboured for wickets since his international comeback after a year-and-a-half, and former India cricket team pacer Zaheer Khan is among those he has turned to for inputs.
The Indian Premier League (IPL) has helped players across nationalities bond, and two have played for Mumbai Indians. Malinga, who turned 34 on Monday, while acknowledging that his pace has dropped, wants to talk to experts like Zaheer as he seeks to reinvent himself.
The two were involved in a chat before the third ODI in Pallekele and he was asked about it on Wednesday, as he prepared to lead the team in the fourth ODI at the Premadasa Stadium. Zaheer Khan is doing commentary in this series.
“I played with him in the IPL 3-5 years. He is a legend of the Indian bowling attack. We always talk with so many bowlers around the world. When I meet them I want to get (to talk to them about) their experience also,” Malinga said.
“Because they are in the commentary box, they look at every single body movement of mine and my bowling action, and how I swing the ball. They have a good idea of how I’m going now. So, every time I have an opportunity, we speak about my bowling action and how I have to improve,” added Malinga.
“Zak is more of a seam and swing bowler, and I want to learn more of that kind of thing over the next few years. That’s what I talked with him,” he said.
Malinga is undeterred by the criticism he has faced, and suggestions since days playing for Sri Lanka is over, after failing to take wickets. He even said he was even willing to go on till 2023.
“I’ve played international and franchise cricket the last 14 years. Now I’m 34. My pace is down. If you had asked me 10 years ago, I didn’t expect this. But whoever is coming towards the end of their careers, there will be failure. People talk about them not being fit enough, or not picking him.”
Lasith Malinga needs just one wicket to become the fourth Sri Lankan bowler to complete 300 wickets in ODI cricket. Muttiah Muralitharan, Chaminda Vaas and Sanath Jayasuriya have gone past that landmark.
But mentoring is not a one-way street.
Jasprit Bumrah acknowledged after his maiden five-wicket haul in ODIs in the third match how Lasith Malinga has guided him since he joined Mumbai Indians as a 19-year-old.