Lasith Malinga produced a spell that will be remembered for ages as the veteran fast bowler’s four wickets inspired Sri Lanka famous 20-run win against England in Match 27 of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in Leeds on Friday. Sri Lanka struggled to get to 232/9 after opting to bat. However, a scratchy innings from Angelo Mathews, who remained unbeaten on 85 off 115 deliveries, saw them reach the below par target after Mark Wood and Jofra Archer picked three wickets apiece.
Malinga, who returned with exceptional figures of four for 43 in his 10 overs and became only the second Sri Lankan to pick 50 World Cup wickets, said that his team stuck to their plan of bowling as many dots as possible while having ‘faith in ourselves’.
“We kept sticking to our plans, ensured that he played away dots and put pressure on him. It paid off. Our plan was to stick to line and length on this pitch with the slower ones and bouncers. We have the confidence to influence matches and have faith in ourselves,” said Lasith Malinga during the post-match presentation ceremony.
Ben Stokes, who scored a valiant 82 not out, threatened to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Malinga had induced a
false stroke from the England allrounder and Kusal Mendis dropped a tough chance at deep-square-leg, leaving the bowler and Sri Lanka frustrated. However, Nuwan Pradeep removed last-man Mark Wood on the last ball of the 47th over to trigger wild celebration in the Sri Lanka camp. “(On the dropped catch of Stokes) We know how good a player he is, we’ve seen it in T20 cricket and in the IPL,” conceded Malinga after the match.
He knows what he has to do
The Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne was lavish in his praise of Malinga, who bagged crucial wickets to change the flow of the game that was going England's way at one stage. Malinga's figures of 4 for 43, combined with Dhananjaya de Silva's 3 for 32 helped Sri Lanka upset the hosts in a thrilling finish, with Ben Stokes's unbeaten 82 going in vain.
"I think he's [Malinga] a legend. He know what he has to do. Whatever he does, he is doing his best, so that is why I said, if he wants to go home and come back, that's fine. So I think he did that and he came back again and he gave a good example for the rest of the guys. He just keeps doing what he knows, that is the main thing, the basic things," said the Sri Lanka captain following his team's 20-run victory over tournament favourites England.
"We thought if we hang in there, we definitely have a chance. We need to get a couple of wickets and we win the game - that's what I told my boys. Keep hanging there, one or two wickets. If you can get one or two wickets, you can win the game," he said.