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Lasith Malinga’s retirement: A look at the Sri Lankan legend’s international legacy

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Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga announced his retirement from T20I cricket, the last format where he was still active, on Tuesday evening. He had earlier retired from Test cricket in April 2011 to prolong his limited-overs career, while his ODI retirement came in July 2019. 

The 38-year old donned various roles for the national side during his 16-year career. From spearheading the bowling attack to vice captaincy and even captaincy, Malinga was a mainstay in the bowling department of Sri Lanka’s limited overs set-up for the majority of his career.

Breathing fire with his searing pace and beaming smile, Malinga became synonymous with his trademark yorker that dismissed many a batter over the years. Here, we recall some of his achievements during his career.

Total wickets in international cricket

Malinga’s international career drew to a final close with 101 wickets in 30 Tests, 338 wickets in 226 ODIs and 107 wickets in 84 T20Is, making it 556 international wickets across formats. He finished his 50-over career in ninth spot on the list for the all-time leading ODI wicket-takers.

Most hat-tricks in international cricket

With his slingy action, unparalleled accuracy and unmatchable temperament, Malinga took five hat-tricks in international cricket - three in ODIs and two in T20Is.

The only bowler to claim three ODI hat-tricks, Malinga’s first two ODI hat-tricks came against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup (4/54) followed by one against Kenya in the 2011 World Cup (6 for 38). He repeated the feat once again versus Australia in 2011 in Colombo (3/35).

Malinga’s T20I hat-tricks came against Bangladesh in 2017 (3/34) and against New Zealand in 2019 (5/6). While most bowlers will be glad to have even one hat-trick in their international career, Malinga boasts five, which is the most by a bowler in international cricket and a world record. 

Malinga’s best bowling spells in international cricket

Though Malinga is credited with delivering innumerable magical spells at the international level, there are two that stand out. 

His 4/54 where he took four wickets off four deliveries against South Africa at the 2007 Cricket World Cup will be fresh in the minds of many a Sri Lankan fan. Bowling under immense pressure with the match in the balance, Malinga dismissed Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini. While his spell wasn’t enough to win the game, it did leave West Indian legend Sir Vivian Richards awestruck.

Another spell that left the cricketing world in awe was when he finished with figures of 5/6 in a T20I against New Zealand in 2019. During this spell, Malinga dismissed Colin Munro, Hamish Rutherford, Colin de Grandhomme, and Ross Taylor off consecutive deliveries.

Other stats and achievements

He captained Sri Lanka to victory in the 2014 ICC World T20 final against India. 

He has the unique distinction of taking four wickets in four deliveries twice.

He has accounted for the most bowled dismissals in T20Is, having rattled the stumps 43 times.

Malinga is the only bowler to have taken two hat-tricks in ODI World Cups (2007, 2011).

He is also the first bowler to take 100 T20I wickets.

Malinga and Angelo Mathews are the record-holders for the highest ninth-wicket partnership in an ODI after he and the all-rounder stitched a 132-run stand against Australia in 2010.

Featured photo : Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP

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