Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga credited Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Mumbai Indians (MI) for his fanbase in India and the rest of the world. He recently announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, including IPL.
Malinga was part of the Mumbai squad in IPL 2008 but he couldn't feature in the tournament due to a knee injury. He made his debut in 2009 and went on to play 122 IPL matches till 2019.
The speedster played his last match in the IPL 2019, which was the final of the tournament against Chennai Super Kings. It was a memorable ending of Malinga's IPL career as he picked up a wicket on the last of the match which turned out to be the reason for MI's fourth IPL title win.
"When I played with Mumbai Indians, I got many fans in India and all over the world. I feel all the young cricketers have a dream - to play franchise cricket, especially IPL, and the national team. That is why I want to share my experience with Mumbai Indians, who have an excellent support staff. That is why I want to explain how I entered the IPL team," the official website of Mumbai Indians quoted Malinga as saying.
"In 2008, I got the opportunity to put down my name for the auction. After that, I got a call from my manager who told me that I'd got a chance to play with Mumbai Indians that year. He asked me not to worry, and that two other Sri Lankan cricketers were there. He also mentioned that I got good owners - Mr. Mukesh Ambani and Mrs. Nita Ambani," he added.
Except for IPL 2020, Malinga has been part of Mumbai's squad in their four title wins; 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Talking further, he said: "The manager also mentioned about the team's support staff and the team having the most experienced players of that time. I had only 3.5 years of international experience. I felt it was good to go there and get some experience to play for the national team. In 2008, I was really unlucky. First I got a knee injury, then I missed the IPL and I lost the Sri Lankan annual contract."
"In 2009, after one and half years, all the doctors and physios said that if I wanted to play, I would have to start short format games to continue my cricketing journey. It meant that I would have to play T20s. But I didn't get any chance to play in the national team and I had only one option: to go to South Africa and play in the IPL. I explained this to the Sri Lankan Cricket board and they understood the situation. In 2009, I finally went to South Africa to meet my MI team," he added.
The 38-year-old picked up 170 wickets in 122 matches, which is the most number of wickets in the IPL. He also has the best bowling average among those who have played at least 100 IPL matches.
(With ANI Inputs)