Lasith Malinga was the surprise selection for Sri Lanka's tour to Australia in 2004, though he had a fearsome reputation on the domestic circuit. Malinga bowls with a distinctive and explosive round-arm action which generates genuine pace and can disconcert batsmen who struggle to pick up the ball's trajectory. Already, he is rated the fastest bowler in Sri Lanka. His first performance in Sri Lankan colours was also impressive - he took 6 for 90 against a Northern Territory Chief Minister's XI. That paved the way for his inclusion in the Test team, and he acquitted himself quite well too, dismissing Darren Lehmann and Adam Gilchrist in the same over.
During an impressive tour of New Zealand in April 2005 his low-slung action resulted in the New Zealand batsmen asking the umpire to change the colour of their trousers as the ball was getting lost. He is developing into Sri Lanka's key pace-bowling wicket-taker, especially as Chaminda Vaas continues to lose pace. Although he remains quite erratic and has a propensity to bowl no-balls, he is a genuine strike bowler, with both new ball and old, and one has the out-and-out pace to trouble the best batsmen on his day. His development as an all-round bowler was confirmed when he was the leading wicket-taker in the one-day series against England. He continued to impress in the Champions Trophy and on tour in New Zealand - where his yorkers made many batsmen hop around.
He established himself as a regular in the playing XI after an impressive World Cup in 2007, with 18 wickets at 15.77 from eight matches as Sri Lanka made it to the final. One of the moments of the tournament was Malinga's four in four against South Africa - the first time a bowler had taken four wickets off successive deliveries in international cricket. However, Malinga was largely ineffective during Sri Lanka's two Tests in Australia and the subsequent home series against England.
A knee injury picked up during the Australia tour in 2007 threatened to cut short Malinga's career, however, and he only played one-day cricket until July 2010. But after appearing in the first two Tests against India, his knee could not take the strain and he did not play the final Test of that series. In April 2011, he decided to end his Test career to spare his knee further damage. The decision to save himself for limited-overs cricket appeared to be justified when he became the first bowler to take three one-day international hat tricks, dismissing Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings and Xavier Doherty in successive deliveries in the final game of the home ODI series against Australia later the same year.
Charlie Austin and ESPNcricinfo Staff Read More