IPL 2022 – CSK vs GT – MS Dhoni

IPL 2022 - CSK vs GT - MS Dhoni

Lasith Malinga’s last ball in the IPL was a bewitching slower ball to trap Shardul Thakur lbw and defend one run off the final ball of an IPL final. Three years later, Baby Malinga, Matheesha Pathirana, trapped Shubman Gill lbw with his first ball in the IPL.

A similar low release, accuracy with the yorker, and a slower one gave Pathirana figures of 3.1-0-24-2 on debut, which included wickets of Gill and Hardik Pandya. His captain MS Dhoni – the captain at the receiving end of Malinga’s sorcery in 2019 – was impressed with what he saw. Having faced Malinga for so long, and also Pathirana in the nets, he should know.

“He is an excellent death bowler,” Dhoni told Star Sports. “A bit similar to Malinga. Also what happens with his action, the margin of error for him is quite big. With a slingy action he doesn’t get a lot of bounce. Which means even if he commits an error of one yard, it is not like it will hit the middle of the bat. It wouldn’t bounce a lot.

“Also with his action it is slightly difficult to pick. And he has got that slower one also. So you have to watch him very carefully. Which means when you spend those extra seconds watching the ball and he is bowling at a decent pace, it becomes quite difficult to consistently hit him.”

Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming was more reserved in his praise but excited to work with Pathirana. “We were really looking forward to him playing today,” Fleming said at the post-match press conference. “And he obviously got success immediately. He is very young. We know who he has similarities with, which is big shoes to fill. But he had a great debut. We are very pleased for him. It’s a unique skill, isn’t it? Learning to coach that and how to use that is one of the challenges. But it was great for him to get a game for us today.”

Pathirana might have similarities with Malinga but his is an even more difficult action. “I think he is an even more extreme example of Malinga,” Daniel Vettori said on ESPNcricinfo’s analysis show T20 Time:Out. “He sort of reaches back and doesn’t even look like he is looking at the target. Whereas Malinga felt like he still had his eyes on what he is doing. But he obviously caught batsmen by surprise. Shubman Gill and Hardik Pandya are quality players.

“That surprise element still comes from the ball coming from a completely different angle to the one you are used to. His accuracy was good enough and once he adds those variations he can be the sort of bowler who disrupts the T20 game. I don’t think he is ever going to be an economical-type bowler but he can certainly come back, take wickets and put the fear of god into some tailenders.”

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