Dimuth Karunaratne was all praise for Lasith Malinga after the veteran bowler produced one of his finest performances for the national team to lead them to a crucial victory. Ben Stokes joined in on the praise as Malinga described his game plan and the mindset of the bowlers during the match.
In what was expected to be a batsman’s tournament and considering England had scored 397/6 in their previous match against Afghanistan, chances of a Sri Lankan victory looked really slim when they set a target of 233. However, like countless times before, Lasith Malinga led the charge from the front and picked up four important wickets to earn a deserved victory.
In doing so, he became only the fourth bowler with 50 World Cup wickets, joining the illustrious list containing legends Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan and Wasim Akram. Ben Stokes could not help but marvel at the genius of the man, claiming his slingshot action gave him the edge over the batsmen.
“He is just different – as much as you do face him he is different. The stumps are always in play with him, with his release point if it hits you in line it’s generally close (to getting the batsman out). We didn’t counter him as well as we could have today but credit to a fantastic bowler,” Stokes said, reported Cricket Country.
The Lions’ skipper Dimuth Karunaratne echoed the same sentiments, being equally impressed by the tenacity of the 35 year old to keep performing at the highest level even though he is going through personal problems. Malinga had returned to Sri Lanka for a while earlier in the tournament after his mother in law died but he has not let anything affect his performance.
“Lasith is a legend. He keeps doing what he knows, that’s the main thing, the basic things. He did a really good job. It looked like a 300 wicket, we thought it was a good, flat wicket. But when we played it seamed in the first few overs then it got slower and slower,” Karunaratne stated.
However, even after Malinga’s heroics, it seemed like Ben Stokes would take the game away from them. But wickets kept falling as Malinga inspired the bowlers to keep bowling in the right areas, as England was ultimately all out 20 runs short of Sri Lanka’s total. Stokes remained unbeaten on 82
“We know how hard Ben Stokes hits it, he got two or three boundaries but we just kept bowling our stock ball. We stuck to our basic plan – line and length, no loose balls and add in some variations and bouncers,” Malinga was quoted saying.
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