From being Mumbai franchise’s bowling consultant in 2018 to helping them win the Indian T20 League in 2019, turning the World Cup into a last-ditch squabble and now a double hat-trick, Lasith Malinga has rocked headlines in 2019.
In a sensational end to a low profile T20I series in Sri Lanka, Lasith Malinga destroyed New Zealand with four wickets in four balls in the third over of the run-chase. Chasing a modest 126 to whitewash Sri Lanka in the series, New Zealand were reeling at 15/4 after the skipper sent back Colin Munro, Hamish Rutherford, Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor off successive deliveries.
The second victim, Hamish Rutherford, had in fact joined the team after flying out 6000 miles because New Zealand were one player short for the game after a bout of injuries. "I was actually just sitting in Worcestershire, quite deep in a Star Wars trilogy so it was quite strange to see the phone ringing with Gavin Larsen's name on it because I had absolutely no idea what was going on," Rutherford had said about his selection.
As fate would have it, he flew in for the final game only to walk out to the middle and last one ball as Malinga swung one back into him to trap him in front as his second victim.
After picking up his double hat-trick, Malinga went on to snare another and finished his first three overs with mind-blowing figures of 3-1-5-5.
This isn't his first time taking four in four balls. Only two bowlers have done so at International level - Malinga and Rashid Khan. The former has now done it twice - once in ODIs and now in T20Is. 12 years back in 2007, Malinga stormed in to clean up South Africa's tail in the death overs in a World Cup game in the West Indies.
Kid Malinga: Sir the website is not opening.— Silly Point (@FarziCricketer) September 6, 2019
Computer teacher: Let me check.
Teacher: Lasith, you again put WWWW instead of WWW. Uff!
While South Africa went on to win the game by a whisker (by one wicket), Malinga's sensational double hat-trick had the world raving about him.
Including this hat-trick, Malinga now has five hat-tricks in International cricket - three in ODIs and two in T20Is. He is the first bowler to take five International hat-tricks. In the process of picking up his five-wicket haul, Malinga also became the first bowler to take 100 T20I wickets.
Unlike in 2007 when he picked up his four in four, Malinga wasn't reversing an old ball. That over in 2007 was an unplayable one where he displayed impeccable skills. Here, he was swinging a new cherry with even smarter skills, 12 years later, at 36 years of age.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Lakruwan Wanniarachchi