One of the best bowlers in the shorter formats, Lasith Malinga has been a constant in the Mumbai Indians line-up with Sachin Tendulkar. Here he speaks to Deep Dasgupta.
What’s it like sharing the dressing room with Sachin?
He’s a quiet but friendly guy in the dressing room, very good with the younger players. I’m grateful for all the support he’s given me in the past five years.
You’ve also played under Sachin as part of the Mumbai Indians. How do you rate him as a captain?
He’s good, as you’d expect. I enjoyed playing under him. I think he always had confidence in me as he’d rarely say much and just throw me the ball. Every captain has a different style. Harbhajan was a little more aggressive in his style and would be always pushing for a wicket. Will be great to now play under Ricky (Ponting) as well.
You got Sachin out in the World Cup final at the Wankhede on his home ground. How did it feel?
It was a great feeling at the time. I had got Sehwag second ball, and when I also had Sachin caught behind, I was confident we were heading for victory. Two hours later, I was distraught having lost; the worst moment in my career.
How is it to bowl to Sachin as Sri Lanka’s spearhead? Do you have a special strategy for him?
Like any bowler, I love the challenge of bowling to him. I usually bowl at him with a new ball at the start of the innings, so the basic plan is to swing it away and get him caught behind. He’s very strong on the leg side, so you’ve to be careful about your line and length.
How is he off the field—on social occasions or on travel days?
Sachin seems a very private person. I’m the same, I don’t like going to parties, so we rarely meet outside matches.
What explains Sachin’s success all round the world, be it Sri Lanka or Australia. Is it technique, talent, skill or all of it?
Sachin’s worked really hard on his game and fitness over the years, but he’s also blessed with pure talent. He’s also very strong mentally—it has helped him cope with all the pressures that comes with being such a superstar in India.