The veteran pacer had initially returned to Sri Lanka to participate in the ongoing Super Four Provincial One-Day tournament following the completion of Mumbai’s win over Chennai Super Kings a week ago.
Malinga had taken the field in Sri Lanka for his side Galle less than 12 hours after picking up a three-wicket haul against CSK in Mumbai and finished with figures of 7-49 to lead them to a 156-run win over Kandy in the campaign opener.
On Tuesday, Malinga flew back to Mumbai from Colombo on the eve of the clash against Kings XI and was seen bowling in the team nets later in the day. His return bolsters an impressive pace attack already containing Jasprit Bumrah, Jason Behrendorrf and Alzarri Joseph who picked up 6-12 on his IPL debut against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
With Malinga’s provincial side Galle slated to play the final of the One-Day tournament on Thursday, the 35-year-old is expected to fly back immediately to Colombo after the completion of Mumbai’s clash against KXIP at the Wankhede stadium.
It will continue a whirlwind last few days for the veteran pacer who has been putting in the hard yards to juggle both his IPL and domestic cricket commitments at the same time.
Dinesh Karthik saw his Kolkata Knight Riders side thrashed comprehensively by defending Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Chennai Super Kings on Tuesday but the skipper was impressed by the maturity shown by all-rounder Andre Russell.
Kolkata were restricted to just 108-9 in their 20 overs on a sluggish pitch at Chennai with Andre Russell battling with an unbeaten half-century. It was nowhere close to enough for the visitors in the end with Chennai chasing down the target comfortably with seven wickets to spare.
Russell had been in explosive form coming into the match with 207 runs scored off 77 balls in the previous matches but he was required to play a comfortably different type of knock against Chennai on a surface where spinners were extremely hard to get away.
Russell curbed his attacking instincts for much of his innings before bursting into life at the death overs to finish unbeaten on 50 (44).
After his side were handed only their second defeat of the campaign, Karthik said, “Definitely not enough runs.”
“Tricky games, games like these. You never know what’s a good score, with the dew and stuff. You always end up thinking you should have got more.
“Four wickets in the powerplay was definitely a setback, but good to see (Andre) Russell showing maturity.”
His Chennai counterpart MS Dhoni criticised the Chepauk pitch once again despite his team’s victory with batsmen finding the going tough on a slow pitch. The CSK skipper had taken aim at the home pitch after the campaign opener as well when his side had bowled out Royal Challengers Bangalore for just 70 runs in a similar seven-wicket win for the hosts.
“It became like the first game. Again we were cribbing about the track but we won. We’ve lost Bravo and it looks like this pitch suits us now but I don’t think we want to play on wickets like these because it becomes too low-scoring for the batsmen,” the veteran skipper stated after the match.
With the seven-wicket win on Tuesday, Chennai have gone back on the top of the IPL 2019 table with five victories so far from their six games.
Both teams had come into the clash on the back of four wins apiece from their five games but it was MS Dhoni and his men who emerged triumphant on another slow deck at the Chepauk stadium.
Pacer Deepak Chahar along with spinners Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir starred with the ball to restrict Kolkata to just 108-9 in their 20 overs. Only all-rounder Andre Russell was able to have any impact with the bat for the visitors with his unbeaten half-century helping them breach the 100-run mark.
In reply, Chennai chased down the target with 16 balls to spare with Faf du Plessis leading the charge with an unbeaten 43.
DU PLESSIS SEES CHENNAI HOME ON SLUGGISH PITCH
A total of just 108 was always going to be under par for Kolkata but they did initially make a fist of it with Sunil Narine dismissing Shane Watson and Suresh Raina inside the powerplay. However, the hosts regrouped through a 46-run stand between Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu who batted cautiously against the KKR spinners.
The South African batsman continued to build on his half-century in the last match in a crucial anchoring role even as Rayudu fell to Piyush Chawla in the 15th over of the chase.
The Proteas veteran kept a cool head and finished off things comfortably in the company of Kedar Jadhav with what was a thoroughly professional 45-ball 43.
CHAHAR GIVES CSK ELECTRIC START
Keeping the evening dew in mind, MS Dhoni elected to field first and the Chennai skipper was given a roaring start with the ball by his seamer Deepak Chahar.
Kolkata’s openers Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn had added 91 runs between them against Rajasthan just a couple of days ago but they could only muster a combined six runs at Chennai with Chahar and Harbhajan Singh striking early.
Chahar pinned Lynn on the pads in the very first over before he completed an excellent catch off the bowling of Harbhajan to send back the dangerous Narine. The Chennai seamer made it two wickets for himself in as many overs when he had Nitish Rana caught at midwicket before he also dismissed Robin Uthappa in his third over to reduce Kolkata to 24-4.
HARBHAJAN, TAHIR CHOKE KKR
After Chahar had done the initial damage with his pace, it was an all-out spin attack by the hosts subsequently with Kolkata’s batsmen tumbling one by one.
Veteran spinners Harbhajan and Tahir had been excellent for Chennai in the previous matches, especially at home, and they continued that form by cleverly mixing up their bowling speeds on a slow surface.
Harbhajan added the wicket of Piyush Chawla to go with that of Narine while the wily Tahir spun a web around Dinesh Karthik and Shubman Gill to end their stays. The South African leggie could have had a third in the form of Russell had Harbhajan not put down a sitter. The Windies all-rounder waged a lone battle henceforth with a fighting fifty but the Tahir-Harbhajan combo had seen Kolkata’s runs dry up significantly and that ultimately proved to be costly.
Why should @harbhajan_singh’a success be surprising? He’s a crafty, classy off-spinner, among the best in the modern era, with a passion for the game that remains unquenched. Excellent performance once again by him— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) April 9, 2019
Kolkata Knight Riders: 108-9
Andre Russell: 50 not out (44)
Deepak Chahar: 3-20
Chennai Super Kings: 111-3
Faf du Plessis: 43 not out (45)