The Yorker King has pulled curtains to a decorated career predominantly known for his unerring yorkers – there won't be another toe crusher
Bleached hair, tattoos, pierced eyebrows and the flamboyance of a star, Lasith Malinga was truly Sri Lanka's pin-up boy. It helps when you have the skill set to back it up, and Malinga had it in plenty. That ball kiss before every delivery, that freaky sling as he bowled and the curl the ball took at 145ks has broken many a toe and has carved out a niche for itself in annals of world cricket. In a land where pitches were only a nicer term for rank turners and a giant in the form of Muttiah Muralitharan operated, Malinga prospered far beyond his shadow to shine in what ended up being Sri Lankan cricket's golden period in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
But things don't go so smooth for anyone, so he also got caught into this vicious cycle of good and bad and has managed to get more than a decent record in Test cricket whereas have a fearsome reputation largely due to his exploits in One Day International and T20 cricket. He took 101 wickets from his 30 Tests, but injuries eventually took a toll on his body, forcing him to retire from Test cricket in 2011 in order to prolong his career.
Here is my Top 4 pick of Malinga's performances:
4/54 v South Africa (2007)
South Africa was the favourites going into the innings break during the Super Eight encounter against Sri Lanka in the 2007 World Cup. Yet they were almost denied – courtesy of the genius of Lasith Malinga.
The South Africans, in their run chase of 210 from 50 overs, were cruising to a comfortable victory, needing a mere 4 runs from 32 deliveries with 5 wickets. That was when Malinga weaved his magic as he dismissed Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini off 4 successive deliveries and became the first bowler ever to take 4 wickets in 4 balls in international cricket.
The South African team, who seemed in total despair after Malinga's heroics, somehow hung on by the skin of their teeth to complete a one-wicket victory in the 48th over – preventing what would have been the greatest comeback.
6/7 v Perth Scorchers (2012)
When Lasith Malinga signed for Big Bash League (BBL) franchise Melbourne Stars in 2012, he was expected to make an immediate impact given his enormous reputation as a T20 bowler. Malinga, being the champion bowler that he is, didn't take long to do justice to that reputation. Perth Scorchers were unfortunately on the receiving end of the pacer's brilliance; they were bundled out for 69 in 15.2 overs due to Malinga's breathtaking spell of 4-1-7-6 in just his 2nd game for the franchise. His match figures are the 2nd best bowling figures in the history of T20 cricket.
5/34 v Pakistan (2010)
In the first game of the Asia Cup in 2010, Sri Lanka had racked up a moderate total of 242 on the board. Pakistan were in deep trouble early in their run chase at 4/32, but Shahid Afridi's sparkling century meant that they were in pole position to get off to a winning start in the tournament. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara turned to Malinga, Lanka's saviour, once again, and he duly delivered by finishing the last 3 wickets in a space of 9 runs to finish with match-winning figures of 10-0-34-5.
3/35 v Australia (2011)
Lasith Malinga's 3/35 against Australia in 2011 holds special significance as, in the process, he became the first bowler to take three hat-tricks in the history of ODI cricket.
In the 45th over of the Australian innings, he got rid of Mitchell Johnson, John Hastings and Xavier Doherty off successive deliveries with yorkers so perfectly executed that better batsmen around the world would have found it difficult negotiating them. Australia were consequently bowled out for a total of 211. Sri Lanka managed to chase the target with 3 overs to spare.
5-30 v Scotland (2011)
Well technically Scotland isn't a strong opposition, but this spell of 5-30 just edges 5-28 against Australia to gain the title of the best spell by Lasith Malinga in ODIs.
After posting a solid 284 on the board, Sri Lanka completely decimated Scotland's batsmen, courtesy to Lasith Malinga. The 'Yorker King' bowled his trademark deliveries to rip apart Scotland's top-order as he got rid of Watts, Coetzer and Macleod to initiate the destruction. Post that, Scotland couldn't recover as they were reduced to 49-7 after 16 overs.
Got back for his final spell, Malinga got the tail-enders to complete a
dominating victory against Scotland. Malinga ended his spell with stunning bowling figures of 5-30 in 9.4 overs with 44 dot balls – the most he has bowled in a single match.
On 26 July 2019, he played his final ODI. In the match he scored 6 unbeated runs. With the ball, he delivered a yorker spell to dismiss Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar. In the end, in his final over in ODIs, he took the wicket of Mustafizur Rahman to surpass Anil Kumble to become the 9th highest wicket-taker in ODIs with 338 dismissals.