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5 For 6, 4 In 4 And Many More – Mesmerising Malinga’s Thunderous Roar

September 7, 2019

The only bowler in the history of the game to claim a hat-trick in each of the consecutive ICC World Cups of 2007 and 2011 seemed a rather diminished force during CWC 2015. He appeared to be significantly slower in the following years in which he also put on weight. His yorkers were no longer as destructive as they used to be, his distinctive action was no more a secret to the world and his deliveries that were often hard to pick didn’t posses the same control and accuracy. Almost everyone thought his career was done a couple of years ago but he has returned to the scenes in a fashion that none of them would ever have imagined. Suddenly the yorkers that seemed to be missing are back, the slower ones are still creating deception, that late swing, the dip, the accuracy — he still has it!
Back in 2007 World Cup Malinga became the first bowler to take 4 wickets in 4 balls in almost 120 years of International cricket. It largely came as a result of reverse-swing with the ball moving into the right hander where his victims were mainly lower order batsmen at Guyana Stadium mostly having empty stands. But 6th September saw a different spell having its own charm, a spell with the new ball that remains in contrast to the one against South Africa by quite some distance. This time he was envenomed by conventional swing that left the ball moving viciously towards the opposite direction. Sri Lanka fell inches short of an incredible victory 12 years ago but Malinga’s bamboozling bowling in front of an euphoric packed house at Pallekele hauled them to a massive 37 run victory, though a consolation one, in a low scoring T20 affair.
When NZ walked out to bat it almost seemed like a formality that they would complete a whitewash. Sri Lankan batsmen had floundered with the bat on a slow and turning surface before posting a total of 125 which was supposed to be well below par. But as Malinga came in to bowl the 3rd over of the innings he set the stadium into ruptures and sent the whole NZ batting order into tumult. The third ball of the over went past Munro’s driving blade to clip the leg stamp – a ball that moved from the middle stump to the leg, both in the air as well as off the surface — wicket number one. The next ball he bowled had him the scalp of another left hander. Hamish Rutherford had flown in from UK for this game but only to be baffled by the Sri Lankan pacer. He barely had time see the ball that swerved sharply to trap him right in front of middle-and-leg. Initially the on-field call went in favour of the batsman but it was overruled once Malinga reviewed the decision.  This dismissal also brought up his 100th T20 International wicket – the most for any bowler. He followed it up with a wicket that was even more special as it saw the back of New Zealand’s best batsman of the series – Collin de Grandhomme, who thought that the yorker Malinga had delivered would hit his pads. He read it, even he played for a yorker, but again, fraction of seconds before reaching him the ball curved away from the bat to crash into the stumps and complete a hat-trick for the magician who was letting the ball talk at will. Malinga set off on an iconic celebratory run instantly and the whole crowd went ecstatic as he pointed towards his name printed at the back of his shirt. He was delighted but not yet fully satisfied. As he came to deliver the next ball the crowd started getting behind him again, perhaps they might have realised that he was not finished yet.  In came Ross Taylor and out went Ross Taylor. New Zealand’s saviour with the bat from the World Cup Semifinal months earlier was pinned plumb in front onto his boot very first ball with the umpire having absolutely no hesitation on this occasion to raise his finger.

The scoreboard looked as astonishing as it was embarrassing for the Kiwis, but we were witnessing nothing but history.  For a second time in his international career it was 4 in 4 for the blonde-haired sensation. Lethal Lasith completed his five wicket haul by removing Tim Seifert getting the latter caught at slip off yet another outswinger. It meant that the Sri Lankan captain now had 5 wickets in a space of only 9 balls where the only run he conceded was off a wide down the leg side.

The Pallekele crowd was subdued at the end of their team’s disappointing batting show. But they were soon brought into roaring life by a vintage performance of their old horse who is even now at the age of 36 can be as explosive as a fast bowler at his prime can be. Many bowlers would dream of picking up one international hat-trick and this guy has 5 including 2 T20 International hat-tricks – feats that nobody else has ever achieved. He is having a year to remember. First he won Mumbai Indians their 4th IPL title this season by delivering a phenomenal last over under pressure and now he has repeated his heroics of 12 years ago – Lasith Malinga couldn’t have redeemed himself any better. And in case if you missed this one, don’t be distressed, he might pick another one for you soon. He is only 36.

One Comment
  1. bhartendu permalink

    When you think of Lasith Malinga, the first thing that comes to your mind is his reputation as one of the world’s most fearsome death bowlers. He can bowl those toe-crushing yorkers at will and with that slingy action, the Lankan bowler has proven very difficult to pick.
    Malinga has the most number of four-wicket hauls of all players playing currently. Of the 282 wickets that the pacer has taken so far, 32.62% of his victims have been out bowled.
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