Colombo: Lasith Malinga is already looking forward to seeing off Australia at the World Cup this weekend, after the Sri Lankan fast bowler's six-wicket haul flattened Kenya on Tuesday.
Malinga showed no signs of an earlier back strain in his first match of the tournament with a career-best 6-38 — including a hat-trick — against a weak Kenya side.
"Opposition doesn't really bother me," Malinga said after his extraordinary start to the World Cup. "I try to get out there, perform to the best of my abilities and get the better of the opposition.
"Hopefully, it will work against Australia and help the team to overcome the Australian challenge."
Sri Lanka crushed Kenya by nine wickets on Tuesday to move onto four points from three matches in Group A.
Malinga said he was upset not to have played against Pakistan at the R. Premadasa Stadium where the tournament co-host lost only by 11 runs on Saturday.
He also sat out from the first game against Canada — played in the southern town of Hambantota on February 20 — when Sri Lanka coasted to an emphatic 210-run win.
"I was really disappointed in the dressing room that I couldn't take part in the action," he said. "We came quite close to winning against Pakistan, which gave me a lot of encouragement. It gave me lot of heart to overcome my injury and get back into this game."
Malinga polished off the Kenyan tailenders by rocketing in a flurry of yorkers. He started off well by trapping opening batsman Seren Waters lbw with a swinging yorker off his seventh delivery.
The paceman also broke the 94-run stand between brothers Collins (52) and David Obuya (51) before claiming the last four wickets off six deliveries.
"Today, the wicket lacked bounce and I thought yorkers should be used more frequently," he said. "I did that and I was successful."
Malinga has watched video footage of Pakistan's lethal pace duo Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, but felt he had developed quite a few other wicket-taking styles of his own.
"You've got to have other deliveries as well and I think I've developed two to three that can take wickets for me," he said.
Injuries have disrupted Malinga's seven-year international career since he made his debut in 2004, with the paceman playing just 78 one-day internationals and taking 120 wickets.
"As long as I am able to play well, free of injuries, and do well for the side, I will continue to do so," he said.
Tuesday's hat-trick gave Malinga a unique distinction by becoming the only bowler to achieve the feat twice in the World Cup.
However, he was more proud of his hat-trick against South Africa at the 2007 World Cup — with four wickets in four deliveries — than the feat against Kenya, despite the fact that Sri Lanka lost that game to the Proteas four years ago.
"To me that was the better effort," he said. "At that stage, South Africa was virtually winning the game... I probably brought back Sri Lanka into the game and gave Sri Lanka an outside chance of winning."