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The best of Slinga-Malinga in ODIs

On this day, sixteen years ago, a lanky Sri Lankan pacer marked his run-up on his international debut. He caught attention of the cricketing world on the very first ball he bowled. Majorly because of his unorthodox bowling action.

Pitted against UAE in the 2004 Asia Cup, Lasith Malinga's third over was a maiden. He followed it up by a wicket in his fourth as UAE skipper Khurram Khan was bowled. The 20-year old had made a mark in his very first game. Little did anyone know that he would become the torch-bearer for bowlers with an unorthodox action.

A total of 338 wickets to become Sri Lanka's third highest wicket-taker in ODIs after Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga became a world-beater.

Here are some of his most memorable performances in the 50-over format. 

1) 4/54 vs South Africa 

(2007 World Cup)

Chasing 210 for victory, the Proteas were cruising at 206/5. Malinga who was bowling his eighth over got the better of Shaun Pollock with his deceptive slower one. The very next ball was a trademark yorker. It was hit in the air and the fielder at cover made no mistake as Malinga got two-in-two.

Returning back in his next over, the right-arm pacer got the priceless wicket of Jacques Kallis to complete his first hat-trick. He then bowled a yorker to clean Ntini's middle stump, becoming the first-ever bowler in international cricket to take four consecutive wickets. The South African side went from 206/5 to 207/9 in a space of ten balls. While Sri Lanka lost, Malinga brought them back into the game out of nowhere.

2) 6/38 vs Kenya

(2011 World Cup)

A hapless Kenyan batting lineup fell prey to a ferocious spell of fast bowling from Lasith Malinga. In their encounter at the 2011 World Cup, the Sri Lankan pacer struck early into the innings. He later broke a 94-run partnership by getting Collins Obuya bowled. However, it was his final spell in the game that took the cake. No doubt, Malinga and death overs have always been a deadly combination.

Kenya were 137/6 when he trapped Tanmay Mishra with his trademark toe-crusher. Living up to his reputation of bowling yorkers at will, he hit the middle stump on the next two balls to secure his second World Cup hat-trick. The show wasn't over as Malinga hit the stumps again in the same over to finish with his best bowling figures of 6/38.

3) 3/35 vs Australia

(2011)

Australia were placed at 210/5 before David Hussey departed and put them in troubled waters. The tailenders were expected to take the visitors to a good total. However, they failed to withstand a ravening over by Malinga at the death. The pacer had been wicketless so far in the match.

He started off with a yorker against Mitchell Johnson to get his first breakthrough. Malinga then trapped John Hastings in front of the stumps to get his second. He then rattled Xavier Douherty's middle stump with a low full-toss. Malinga was now the first-ever cricketer to take three hat-tricks in ODIs.

4) 5/52 vs Pakistan

(2014 Asia Cup)

Chasing a total of 297 in the first game of the Asia Cup, Pakistan were looking at ease with the score reading 252/5.With just 47 needed from six, Sri Lanka wanted Malinga to fire. He did so by removing Shahid Afridi first. One ball later, it was Misbah who gave it straight to deep square leg. Malinga bowled a game-changing over with two important wickets.

Denting Pakistani hopes, Malinga got rid of Umar Gul in his penultimate over as Pakistan were eight down but still in no mood to back down as they attacked from the other end. With 17 required off two overs, Malinga stormed a yorker to get through Ajmal's leg stump. He then had Bilawal Bhatti's off stump tossed over as Sri Lanka registered a 12-run victory. Malinga ended up with a five-for. He took the last five wickets to stun Pakistan that day.

5) 5/56 vs Pakistan 

(2014 Asia Cup final)

It was the Asia Cup final and Malinga again rose to the occasion against Pakistan. This time, he started striking with the new ball. Getting a wicket each in his first three overs, Pakistan were reduced to 18/3. While the run-rate slowed down, Pakistan didn't lose a single wicket till Malinga was brought back in the 37th over. He got the better of Misbah who got out scoring 65.

He eventually got Umar Akmal in the final over to finish off with a five-wicket haul. Pakistan put up a total of 260/5 losing all their wickets to Malinga who applied the brakes early into their innings. Sri Lanka chased the target comfortably and ended up winning the Asia Cup edition of 2014. Lasith Malinga was named as the Man of the Match.

6) 4/43 vs England 

(2019 World Cup)

Sri Lanka didn't have a memorable 2019 World Cup but they will remember it for their triumph against World Champions England at their own den. After his team put up 232/9 with the bat, Malinga set the tone with the ball as he had Jonny Bairstow LBW in his first over. He then got James Vince edging one to Kusal Mendis to get his second wicket.

He was brought back into the attack when it seemed like Joe Root was slowly taking the game away from Sri Lanka's hands and struck immediately. In the very next over, he got the big wicket of Jos Buttler to turn the game in his team's favour. He conceded just four runs in his last couple of overs as the pressure kept mounting on the English batsmen. In the end, Sri Lanka won and Malinga's 4/43 got him the Man of the Match award.