Players on Twenty20: Lasith Malinga September 14, 2007

'You need to attack from the word go'

Twenty20 is tough on bowlers, but offence may just be the best form of defence, Lasith Malinga tells Nagraj Gollapudi

Malinga: "Your job is to adapt to the conditions" © Getty Images

In the Caribbean earlier this year, Lasith Malinga was one of the stars at the 2007 World Cup - as much for his bowling as for his spectacular hair. Four months on, another World Cup has rolled around, one even more tilted in favour of the batsman than the last, and Malinga is raring to go. He spoke to Cricinfo about the limitations and challenges of bowling in Twenty20.

Is there any room for the bowler to express himself in Twenty20?
Lasith Malinga
I think if you are chosen as a bowler to represent your country in any form of cricket, your job is to adapt to the conditions. So, yes, there is plenty of opportunity for a bowler to express himself.

Batsmen have to attack from the word go, and if a bowler is spot on and accurate he can take wickets and quickly change the game. It will be tough for bowlers, but I think we have to be positive and look for wickets.

How difficult will it be to bowl a dot ball?
Getting dot balls will naturally be difficult. But if you bowl tightly to your field then the pressure is on the batsman.

What kind of game plan do you think will work?
I'm going to be trying to keep it very tight, bowl wicket to wicket, and also try some variations to disrupt the batsman's rhythm.

Do you attack or do you go on the defensive?
If you need to get wickets and if you need to make an early impact in the game, you must attack.

Mentally how can you adapt to responding to the batting onslaught?
The only way to prepare yourself is by studying the batsman early and setting your bowling targets accordingly. We have a team game plan and we'll stick to that. You can't think about the previous ball - you always have to focus on the next ball.

What should be the approach during the Powerplay?
There is no such thing as being safe. Our aim should be to put the opposition under pressure very early, and the only way we can do that would be by attacking from the word go.

What do you reckon the conditions in South Africa will be like? Will bowlers get any help?
You can't quite expect much in this kind of tournament as most pitches will be suited for batting. We as bowlers will have some assistance anyway due to the normal South African bouncy wickets.

Do you think spin will play a significant role as it has played in the domestic Twenty20 around the globe?
Spin will play a significant role. Unlike playing a fast bowler, playing a spinner requires more technique and precision. Plus you will have to hit the ball harder in order to score runs.

Nagraj Gollapudi is assistant editor of Cricinfo Magazine. With thanks to Shyam Impett, who translated