After picking up his 500th T20 wicket — a historic moment in white-ball cricket — West Indies bowler Dwayne Bravo gave a short interview to the brodcasters during the Caribbean Premier League. He was asked who will be the next bowler to reach the landmark. He picked Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan and compatriot Sunil Narine as age was on their side, but in addition, Bravo paid tribute to a certain Sri Lankan pacer: “Lasith Malinga is the greatest pacer,” he said.
He might not have the same numbers are Bravo does but the West Indies star did not bat an eyelid in acknowledging Malinga’s genius.
Malinga holds many a record in international cricket but arguably the most jaw-dropping is this: he is the only man in the history of international cricket to pick up four wickets in four balls on two different occasions.
Out of the 62 hat-tricks registered till date in white-ball cricket, Malinga alone is responsible for five.
ODI hat-tricks for Malinga
|*SL Malinga||Sri Lanka v South Africa||Guyana||28/03/2007|
|SL Malinga||Sri Lanka v Kenya||Colombo (RPS)||01/03/2011|
|SL Malinga||Sri Lanka v Australia||Colombo (RPS)||22/08/2011|
First up, the four-in-four against South Africa at the 2007 World Cup:
When South African were cruising to a win in the Super Eights match in Providence, Malinga decided to shake things up a bit. The target was 210, South Africa were 206/5.
Over 44.5, SA 206/6: A sensational slower ball that Shaun Pollock had no clue about until it went past him and hit the stumps.
Over 44.6, SA 206/7: No one bowled the slower yorker as well as Malinga when he burst onto the scene. Andrew Hall was left flummoxed and could only scoop the ball.
Over 46.1, SA 207/8: What a wicket to take for your first international hat-trick, eh? Jacques Kallis edged one behind at the start of the next Malinga over and finally, Malinga burst out in joy.
Over 46.2, SA 207/9: The fast bowler in Makhaya Ntini might just have nodded in approval at this yorker as Malinga stunned South Africa with four in four.
The match, however, ended up in South Africa’s favour but Malinga had almost succeeded in helping Sri Lanka clinch victory from the jaws of defeat. The Proteas won by one wicket.
T20I hat-tricks for Malinga
|SL Malinga||Sri Lanka v Bangladesh||Colombo||2016/17|
|*SL Malinga||Sri Lanka v New Zealand||Pallekele||2019|
Then, 12 years later, in a T20I against New Zealand, Malinga went and did it again:
Over 2.3, NZ 15/1: Malinga breached the defences of Colin Munro with a delivery that swung in. This was incidentally the Sri Lankan legend’s 100th T20I wicket.
Over 2.4, NZ 15/2: With another swinging, full delivery, Malinga accounted for another left-hander. Hamish Rutherfod could not do much about this delivery but he was given not out by the umpire. Malinga reviewed immediately (being the captain and all) and it was a top decision by the pacer. All three reds on ball-tracking.
Over 2.5, NZ 15/3: SO CLOSE! This one could have gone either way. The replays are not kind to Malinga or the third umpire in hindsight and one wonders if on another day, in difference circumstances, the no-ball decision would have gone against him. But that shouldn’t take anything away from the sensational delivery that Colin de Grandhomme received: full and swinging away.
Over 2.6, NZ 15/4: For the second time in his career, Malinga had four in four balls. Ross Taylor just started walking away after he was struck on the pads by a similar delivery that squared up de Grandhomme.
“The skill that I have in taking wickets, considering the experience, is more than any other player on the field. I don’t care who believes that or not, but I believe that. So I want to control the game as soon as I get the ball in hand,” Malinga said after the match against New Zealand.
Hat-trick hero, in the truest sense of the word.