Lasith Malinga appears to have made it a habit to bully Pakistan in ODIs. On Saturday, the Sri Lanka pacer replaced Ajantha Mendis and claimed 5 for 56 in the Asia Cup title clash at Mirpur on Saturday. Malinga run riot and reduced the defending Asia Cup champions to 18 for three in the fifth over. It proved to be a telling blow. (Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Asia Cup final highlights)
Well-known for his formidable skills with the ball, Malinga's menacing pace left an otherwise dominant Pakistan batting line-up in complete shambles as the side finished on a below par 260 for 5. It however was not the first time that Pakistan were guilty of abject surrender against the 30-year-old who now has 256 wickets in the 50-over format.
Malinga has been a dominant force for Sri Lanka and his prowess has especially hurt Pakistan in the recent past. In the first match of Asia Cup 2014, the pacer was as relentless as he was on Saturday - his 5/52 taking the steam of Pakistan's run chase in the opener. His abilities do not just end with taking wickets though as he has the reputation of being very economical as well. In fact, if we include the previous two encounters between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, Malinga has claimed a total of 14 wickets for just 165 runs in 29.5 overs!
Coming into the title clash at Mirpur - after being rested against Bangladesh on Thursday -- Malinga appeared fresh and raring to fire against his 'favourite' team. "I never think about other players. I don't think they are thinking about me, either," he had said on Friday. But Pakistan just can't ignore the maverick Lankan. After all, Malinga does have 39 wickets against the team, including three fifers (most against any other side). The slinging pacer also has cast his spell on the Australians, against whom he has taken 45 wickets in just 26 ODIs at an average of 24.44 and an economy rate of 4.92.
The highest wicket-taker for his side in the tournament with 11 scalps, Malinga's exceptional form has not been without hard-work. "I still manage to reverse the ball because I train a lot in the nets. I take a ball which is about 15 overs old and practice reverse swing and try to hit the block-hole. So, when I go to a match, I carry the belief with me," Malinga has revealed. It is this 'belief' that has bled Pakistan and threatens to hurt other opponents in future tournaments, including the T20 World Cup later this month.