The first ODI between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at the R Premadasa stadium on Friday after the end of their poor ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaigns had a huge significance for the hosts. Lasith Malinga, the bowling spearhead who made a name for himself with his slinging action, brilliant death overs bowling and ability to take hat-tricks at will, was playing his last ODI. Sri Lanka was boosted by a brilliant 111 from Kusal Perera as they reached 314/8. In response, the Sri Lankan crowds witnessed a Malinga special as he sent back Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar. With Bangladesh reeling, the stage was set for Malinga to bow out with the ultimate farewell. Bowling his final over, Malinga got the wicket of Mustafizur Rahman with a full ball for 18 as Bangladesh lost by 91 runs. Malinga ended with figures of 9.4-2-38-3 and ended with 338 wickets, the ninth-best among bowlers in ODIs going past Anil Kumble's mark.
Speaking after the end of the match, Malinga said it was the right time to retire from ODIs and urged future players to be match-winners for the country. "I have been playing for the last 15 years for Sri Lanka and this is the right time to move on. My time is over and I have to go. Winning is very important for me; We are a young team. I tried my best throughout my career. Some of the young bowlers in the country have a good ability, so they need to try and produce match-winning spells. You have to be a match-winner for your team, that's my advice," Malinga said.
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Before Malinga came on to bowl, he was given a guard of honour by both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh players and he bid an emotional goodbye to all the fans at the Premadasa. In the post-match press conference, Malinga revealed his mode of operation that had yielded him so much success in the last 15 years. " I only targeted to ball in fuller length. That delivery gives you 3 options to get a batsman out. Either bowled, lbw or snick. Short or back of length delivery only gives an edge. Why should I try otherwise when I can get success in one delivery?," Malinga said.
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Malinga has left a big impression in world cricket during his 15 years. His ability to nail the yorkers at will set the template for death-overs bowling. His slingy action made him unique. He created history by becoming the first bowler to take four wickets in four balls during the World Cup encounter against South Africa in Guyana during the 2007 World Cup edition. Malinga has also taken three hat-tricks in ODIs which is the most by any bowler. In the Indian Premier League, Malinga is the leading wicket-taker and played a major part in Mumbai Indians' four IPL title triumphs, including the last one against Chennai Super Kings in Hyderabad which they won by one run when he trapped Shardul Thakur LBW with two runs needed off the last ball.