England vs Sri Lanka, Lasith Malinga, England, Sri Lanka, World Cup, ICC World Cup 2019
Malinga, who returned with exceptional figures of four for 43 in his 10 overs, became only the second Sri Lankan to pick 50 World Cup wickets. @ AFP

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 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.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne singled out Mathews and Malinga for special praise.

“It was a close one. Sometimes we were under pressure and sometimes we were dominating. At the end of the day it was team work – batters, bowlers and fielders. This wicket looked good but when we were batting it was slow. We knew we couldn’t get 300, so we wanted to get 250-275 but unfortunately we lost wickets,” he said.

“Angelo batted really well and took responsibility. If we had the score, the bowlers knew what to do on this wicket. When Malinga got a couple wickets we had to keep him for the last overs and then I gave Dhananjaya the ball and he did a good job. Those are the things we want as a team and I am expecting those things as a captain. I think Root’s wicket was the turning point. I was not confident (with the review) but still went for it,” said Karunaratne.

Losing captain Eoin Morgan thought that his bowlers did a good enough job by restricting Sri Lanka to a chaseable total. He conceded that lack of partnerships cost the hosts the game.

“I thought we were really good with the bowl, adapted to the conditions and we restricted Sri Lanka to a chaseable total. Lack of partnerships cost us the game. Couple of individual performances almost took us over the line. It is frustrating in the dressing room. Every game is extremely tough in this tournament, we have talked about this. We will look to bounce back well on Tuesday.

“Both sides found the conditions challenging. It was a bowler’s day. There will be more of those throughout the tournament so we will have to adapt better. It is a tournament where you need to adjust and turn things around. Naturally as a team we tend to come back strongly, that is our strong point. This is a long tournament and we have huge opportunities in every game. We have the chance to bounce back. We have Australia next, it is one of those fixtures which you look first in the fixture list before the start of the tournament. It is always very exciting playing them at the home of cricket. We don’t know yet (whether Roy will be fit for the Australia match),” said Morgan.