Farewell to a legend: Malinga makes his final bow | Daily News


 

First ODI – Sri Lanka v Bangladesh today

Farewell to a legend: Malinga makes his final bow

A traffic policeman rides past a banner at the R Premadasa Stadium saluting cricket legend Lasith Malinga on his final ODI appearance for his country in the first match of a three-match series against Bangladesh today. (Picture by Ishara Kodikara)
A traffic policeman rides past a banner at the R Premadasa Stadium saluting cricket legend Lasith Malinga on his final ODI appearance for his country in the first match of a three-match series against Bangladesh today. (Picture by Ishara Kodikara)

All good things they say must come to an end and on this occasion One-Day International (ODI) cricket will bade farewell to legendary fast bowler Lasith Malinga when he makes his 226th and last ODI appearance for this country in the first match of the series against Bangladesh under lights at the R Premadasa Stadium today.

For years on end Malinga has been the spearhead of the Lankan fast bowling attack and despite several setbacks with authority and injuries that hindered his career right throughout the 15 years he represented his country he has always emerged triumphant.

At 35 his tired and weary limbs can no longer take on the brunt of bowling ten overs in ODI cricket and he has decided that today after playing in the first ODI he would quit. This would end the second phase of his wonderful and chequered career. The first phase ended on August 7 at the P Sara Oval against India in 2010 when he quit from Test cricket in order to prolong his international cricket career.

Malinga would certainly be not lost entirely to Sri Lanka and world cricket because he will continue to play in the T20 format till October next year when he will make his final bow after playing in the ICC World T20 in Australia.

As for now the focus will be on his ODI retirement and a full house is expected to attend the 40,000 capacity R Premadasa Stadium today to bade farewell to a legend who has kept the Lankan flag flying high the world over with his unique style of bowling and his unkempt light blond looks that has made him a cult with fans the world over.

‘IN BANGLADESH PEOPLE WANTED TO BOWL LIKE MALINGA’

“He has been a great ambassador of the game. He is one cricketer a lot of young children after watching him started playing cricket. He is that kind of a figure not only in Sri Lanka but around the world,” was how Bangladesh skipper Tamim Iqbal described Malinga paying tribute to a cricketing icon.

“I still remember when he first came into the scene especially back in Bangladesh people wanted to bowl like him, even when we played Sri Lanka we used to find who had a similar action like Malinga bowling at the nets. That kind of an impact he has given to world cricket.

“It’s a very special game for him tomorrow but one thing is for sure when we are playing against him we won’t keep this in mind that this is his last game. We will try to play as hard as possible and try to win a game for Bangladesh cricket. All his achievements for Sri Lanka and for world cricket has been phenomenal. From my team and from my country what I can say is Best of Luck. I heard that he will keep on playing the T20Is. I wish him all success,” he said.

Malinga’s captain for his final ODI hurrah Dimuth Karunaratne said: “Lasith is a legend he has done a good job for the country for the past 15 years. He was our main bowler in the last few years. We’ll miss him. I don’t think anyone can replace him. We wanted him to play the full series but he said he wanted to give a chance to the youngsters to groom them for the next World Cup. We have to accept what he says.”

What impact will it have on the one-day team sans Malinga?

“When I give him the ball he always obliges with a wicket, he is a wicket-taking bowler. If you take the World Cup he took a lot of wickets for us. After he retires we will need to find a bowler who can take wickets. We have Akila (Dananjaya) for this series I hope he will bowl well as on the last occasion,” said Karunaratne.

“We have been depending on Lasith most of the time because any time we need a wicket he would put his hands up and do the job for us. Until we find a replacement for him seniors like Nuwan Pradeep and Thisara Perera should take the responsibility. I hope they will do a good job.”

Anything special planned for Malinga’s farewell?

“There are a lot of off-field celebrations we have planned at the hotel and the hotel management are also organizing a farewell for him after the match. We have also planned certain other things, a few things in the dressing room and before we leave the hotel. But the best farewell we can give him is to win his final ODI, so that he can go off on a happy note. That is what we are preparing for and our main focus is on that,” Karunaratne said.

Sri Lanka are unlikely to make any changes to their batting from the World Cup, but Karunaratne said there may be a few changes in the bowling line-up.

He however stated that with Bangladesh having two off-spinners in their side there could be a change in the opening combination. As both Karunaratne and Kusal Perera are left-handers Sri Lanka might switch one of them with right-hander Avishka Fernando who batted at no. 3 in the World Cup.

“Most probably we might rotate the openers berth amongst Kusal, Avishka and me. The rest of the batting will remain the same.”

‘PITCH WITH LOTS OF PACE AND BOUNCE’

Karunaratne described the R Premadasa Stadium pitch as “a good wicket with a lot of pace and bounce. It’s a good wicket for fast bowlers and for batsmen the ball will come nicely onto the bat. We want to prepare a good track and win instead of making pitches to suit only one side.”

Tamim Iqbal who was handed the ODI captaincy almost at the eleventh hour had hardly any time to accustom himself to his new role, but he was confident that with the players he had under his command would perform to expectations.

“It was a very last minute call because our regular captain (Mashrafe Mortaza) the night before we came to Sri Lanka got injured. But whatever opportunities I had with the team for the last 3-4 days I have spoken to the players and told them what their roles are and what the team wants from them,” explained Tamim.

“One thing that is good is that everybody has played for a couple of years for Bangladesh and we don’t have anyone like who has played two or five ODIs. Everyone has played some kind of cricket so that’s a positive side because at the end of the day they all know their responsibilities and how important they are for the team. I am sure tomorrow when we come to play we just need to execute all the plans and all the skills that we have in the middle and try to be the better team on the day,” he said.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh never met in the 2019 World Cup match because their game was rained off at Bristol without a ball being bowled. This will be another opportunity for both sides to front up with each other.

“It was a loss for both the teams particularly because that would have given us two points or given them two points. It was an important game for both the teams. It was unfortunate that we had a washout,” said Tamim.

“About Bangladesh being favourites or not I don’t like giving the tag to anyone because Sri Lanka is a very good team especially at home and they have played some very good cricket in the World Cup especially the way they played against England was very good. Same goes for us. We have been playing some serious cricket for a couple of years and we have done well in Sri Lanka as well when we toured the last time. So it’s more likely that whoever executes skills better tomorrow will have the upper hand.”

 


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