Shikhar Dhawan alleges that he is able to attack Sri Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga more given the decline in his pace, but this does not mean that Malinga’s career is about to end as he still manages to maintain a decent performance.
During Shikhar Dhawan’s matchwinning knock against Sri Lanka on Sunday (August 20) en route to his eleventh One-Day International century, one thing that stood out was his treatment of Lasith Malinga.
The 33-year-old the Sri Lankan paceman is not the mighty bowler that he once was. However, that doesn't spell the end of his career since he is still able to maintain a decent pace and hit the right lengths.
Moreover, he’s still the best Sri Lanka have given the current predicament with its injury-hit pace unit. Of course, his most effective weapon, the Yorker, has not remained that strong as it once was and the slower ball is not as tough to pick.
Dhawan, who has faced Malinga consistently over the years in the Indian Premier League, knew all about this gradual decline and reduced strength, and was prepared.
“He has been a legend for Sri Lankan cricket and he has done great in international cricket in all formats. He is a bit old now and with time I feel that his pace has gone down and that’s why we can attack more as batsmen. This is natural because he has played so much cricket. It’s just a cycle, life cycle,” said Dhawan about Malinga’s decline.
Malinga played his 200th ODI last night and has 298 wickets so far. Perhaps, he can be excused in the autumn of his career which stretches back to 2004, 13 years, a very long time.
But the effects of exhausting bowling sessions aren’t that visible on those players who are still quite young.
“They’re a young side and they are in a transition period where all the boys will mature. In international cricket, you need to have that experience. The young boys are good but with time they will get better,” felt Dhawan.
“I don’t use those harsh words. I think they have a good fast bowling attack, even in the Champions Trophy, they beat us. It’s just that we have got a mature side. I feel that with time the Sri Lankan team will do good,” he added in a diplomatic manner.
Nic Pothas, Sri Lanka’s interim coach, backed the views of Dhawan and agreed that the young unit was raw and will make mistakes going forward.
“You have to be supportive of the young team as they build up that repertoire of experiences,” Pothas explaining that chopping and changing the side regularly wouldn’t help the team’s psyche either.
“In every team you want your senior players to perform, but at the end of the day they are humans too – they are going to make errors. When you get consistency within a team of players, you will see improvements in performance. When we’re getting new players for every game, it gets very difficult from a confidence point of view. From the player’s point of view, it’s very difficult. It’s also difficult for us, the coaching staff, to create a strategy,” said the former South African wicket keeper.