Malinga – zenith of popularity at highest level
I wish to recall one episode to record Malinga’s popularity at the highest level of the governments.
On the eve of President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to India in February 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a telephone call to the President and I was present on that occasion as Director (International Media). I was also asked to interpret the telephone conversation.
Prime Minister Modi started the conversation saying he was looking forward to welcoming President Sirisena. I was taken by surprise when Modi’s next comment was on cricket.
“I wish to convey my good wishes to the Sri Lankan Team in the World Cup in India. You have an excellent team and I am a fan of your pace bowler Lasith Malinga,” he said.
The Indian Prime Minister further added that Malinga was very popular in India as he played for the Mumbai Indians Team in the Indian Premier League and reiterated his best wishes. That is how Malinga figured heavily in cricket diplomacy too. We all miss this cricketing great.