Malingas hat-trick powers Sri Lanka to thumping win

Lasith Malinga (C) of Sri Lanka celebrates taking the wicket of Shem Ngoche during the Kenya vs Sri Lanka 2011 ICC World Cup.

By Jamie Alter

Colombo: Mar 1, 2011

Lasith Malinga marked his return to the Sri Lankan side in stirring style, setting the tone with a vicious yorker in his first spell, snapping a stubborn partnership in his second, and then ripping the lower order out in a devastating burst in his third, which included a stunning hat-trick, the first time a bowler had recorded the achievement twice in a World Cup.

During the Kenyan innings the record for slowest fifty of the tournament was set by Collins Obuya and then broken by his brother David, but once Malinga separated the two at 102 for four, the innings gave way in stunning manner as Kenya lost six wickets in 22 balls. Left to chase a paltry 143, Tillakaratne Dilshan set off rapidly before Upul Tharanga finished the job with more than 31 overs to spare – with a fluent unbeaten half-century.

After Nuwan Kulasekara rapped Maurice Ouma s pads with his second delivery, Malinga warmed up for his act by nearly crippling Seren Waters with a searing yorker. Less than 14 minutes of the start of Kenya s innings, the situation was grim. Collins Obuya, one-time legspinner and now top-order batsman, found himself with little license to attack with the score eight for two. And so began a dour period of defence littered with singles the Obuyas went 94 deliveries without hitting a boundary and some stubbornness against a bowling attack that offered little room to breathe. It wasn’t exciting stuff, but it represented a definite improvement.

Collins Obuya and David Obuya scored half-centuries that came at strike-rates of 52.00 and 48.11 respectively, but their 94-run partnership came at a time of crisis. As the pair pinched runs and struck the odd boundary, matters became less dire. Collins Obuya s first three boundaries didn t go where he intended them, but there were some quality cuts and sweeps. David Obuya produced some strokes of authority: a full toss from Malinga was smashed past mid-off, and Angelo Mathews was driven through the covers with lan. Kenya survived two appeals, and that added to Sri Lanka s frustration.

Enter Malinga in the 32nd over. With his fourth ball, he cleaned up Collins Obuya with another peach of a yorker. Steve Tikolo then chased one and picked out backward point (120 for 4), David Obuya slog-swept Muttiah Muralitharan to the deep, and Jimmy Kamande took off for an unnecessary single and was run out (128 for 6).

That was nothing compared to what happened next. With four fast, curving, deliciously full deliveries, Malinga shattered stumps and Kenyan spirits to trigger a collapse of four wickets for five runs. It was devastating stuff. Tanmay Mishra limped off after a yorker crashed into his boot, Peter Ondongo didn t even spot the shooting yorker that flattened middle stump, and Shem Ngoche became Malinga s hat-trick victim with a similarly unplayable delivery. The final wicket came in identical manner as Malinga speared a fast yorker under Elijah Otieno s bat.

Chasing a meagre 143 on the flat Premadasa pitch, Ongondo fed Dilshan one loose delivery after another and was taken for 28 in his first three overs. Runs came briskly and Sri Lanka never looked back. It was a typical Dilshan knock: his cutting was assured, his driving hard, and when he pulled the ball stayed connected. Ngoche was called on as early as the sixth over and DIlshan mastered him with ease, casually biffing him for three boundaries. Dilshan looked like chasing 143 all by himself before he nicked a cramped cut shot to the wicketkeeper (72 for 1).

Tharanga was his partner, and he played his part well. He played few fierce shots, and let Dilshan get a lot of the strike. There was no hurry or nervousness, and once Dilshan departed Tharanga took over the leader s role. A lofted boundary was followed by a push into the covers as Tharanga passed his fifty. With Kumar Sangakkara turning over the strike and punishing the loose balls, Tharanga finished the chase off with three consecutive boundaries. Sri Lanka made batting look a whole lot easier than Kenya’s batsmen did earlier in the day.

Sri Lanka missed Malinga against Pakistan, and with him at his crushing best, look a totally different side.

Brief Scores: Kenya 142 all out in 43.4 overs (Collins Obuya 52, David Obuya 51; Lasith Malinga 6 for 38) lost to Sri Lanka 146 for 1 in 18.4 overs (Upul Tharanga 67*, Tillakaratne Dilshan 44).

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now.)

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