August 17, 2019
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    Captures his 500th international wicket : Malinga fires but Sri Lanka finish losers

    October 14, 2018

    Lasith Malinga came roaring back into top gear with a five-wicket haul that included his 500th international wicket but his magnificent bowling effort proved in vain as Sri Lanka’s batting crumbled miserably against a highly skilled England bowling attack to lose the second ODI by 31 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis rain rule at the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium yesterday.

    The Sri Lankan bowlers did extremely well to restrict the strong England batting line-up to a score of 278-9 with Malinga being the central figure taking a haul of 5 for 44 off 10 overs, his eighth five-for in his career and his first against England.
    But that performance was overshadowed by another deplorable performance that saw the Sri Lankan batting in tatters as they limped to 140-5 in 29 overs when a heavy downpour ended the match. On the D/L rain rule at the end of 29 overs Sri Lanka should have had a total of 171 if they were to be declared winners. But that target was far from their grasp despite a brave unbroken stand of 66 off 78 balls between Dhananjaya de Silva (36 n.o.) and Thisara Perera (44 n.o.) for the sixth wicket.
    A side that could not compete with teams like Bangladesh and Afghanistan being bowled out for totals of 124 and 158 respectively, Sri Lanka was no match for a self-assured all-round England side. Chris Woakes did the early damage by capturing three wickets for 26 runs in his opening spell of five overs and from there onwards Sri Lanka with an unstable batting line up were soon in trouble being four down for 31 before the first ten overs. England desperate to get through the first 20 overs before the impending rain switched over to their spinners Liam Dawson and Moeen Ali who rattled through the overs at a quick pace so that by the end of 20 overs (which is the minimum number required to decide on the result of a match) Sri Lanka had lost half the side for 95.
    However despite a slight drizzle the umpires continued play under lights and England having achieved their objective brought back their quick bowlers but Dhananjaya de Silva and Thisara Perera staged a fightback of some sorts to raise Sri Lankan hopes of a late revival for when the game eventually ended Sri Lanka’s required run rate was around 6.6 which was quite reachable.
    Thisara Perera who greeted Adil Rashid with a six over long-on off the first ball he bowled was unbeaten on 44 scored off 49 balls with three sixes and one four and De Silva who gave him good support was 38 not out off 50 balls inclusive of two fours and a six.
    In between Malinga’s excellent spells Joe Root and Eoin Morgan ensured England reached a competitive total. Root who was batting by the fourth ball of the innings when Malinga had Jason Roy popping a catch to mid-wicket to be dismissed without a run on the board, put together two half century partnerships with Jonny Bairstow (26) and Morgan who went onto score an excellent 92 off 91 balls (11 fours, 2 sixes). Root benefitting from a dropped catch at 48 by Dhananjaya de Silva at mid wicket went onto make 71 off 83 balls.
    England invited to bat first again looked to be heading for a total in excess of 300 at 140-2 in the 29 overs until Malinga arrived for his second spell to put the brakes on their batting. He sent back Morgan and Moeen Ali off successive deliveries in the 42nd over – both with cleverly disguised slow balls.
    Morgan lobbed back an easy return catch eight shy of what would have been his 12th ODI hundred and his first against Sri Lanka. Moeen was all at sea against a slow yorker which found itself past his defence to be bowled first ball to give Malinga his 500th wicket in internationals – 101 in Tests, 309 in ODIs and 90 in T20Is.
    Malinga’s hat-trick ball was a beamer to Woakes which resulted in a no-ball and a free-hit of which no runs were scored as the ball hit to extra cover was fielded smartly by substitute fielder Sadeera Samarawickrama.
    There was this unusual incident in the 47th over where umpire Ranmore Martinesz miscounted and called over after only five balls. The next over was about begin when the miscount was brought to the notice of the umpires and Malinga who delivered that final ball of the 47th over picked up his fifth wicket of the innings by clean bowling Liam Dawson with a yorker. That wicket led to some sort of a celebration from Malinga who pointed to the name on his shirt. After being on the sidelines largely for reasons other than cricket it was good to see Malinga once again claiming the ball and leading his side off the field at the end of the England innings. By his performance Malinga proved that the master of the death overs was back and hungry for wickets.

    “I try to do my best, whatever the situation is. I don’t know how much of my career I have left for the country, but I am proud to play for Sri Lanka. I want to prove I am still the man. You never know (about the World Cup), I just do my best,” said Malinga.

    Morgan was named Man of the Match for his knock of 92. The two teams move to Pallekele for the third and fourth ODIs scheduled for October 17 and 20 with England leading the five-match series 1-0.

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