POST TIME: 23 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Karunaratne all praise for Malinga
ICC-Cricket.com, London

Karunaratne all praise for Malinga

England’s Ben Stokes (R) reacts as Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga celebrates taking the wicket of Jos Buttler for 10 runs during the CWC 2019 match at Headingley in Leeds on Thursday. AFP Photo

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne heaped praise on star fast bowler Lasith Malinga after his match-winning spell of 4/43 against England in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 match in Leeds. England were overwhelming favourites going into the match on Saturday, 21 June, and the odds further tipped in their favour once they had restricted Sri Lanka to a seemingly modest 232/9 in 50 overs.

Malinga, however, rolled back the years to produce a terrific spell that helped Sri Lanka bundle England's explosive batting line-up for just 212. The 35-year-old's haul comprised the key wickets of James Vince, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jos Buttler. Captain Karunaratne couldn't have asked for more.

"I think he's a legend," the skipper gushed after the game. “He knows what he has to do...He just keeps doing what he knows, that is the main thing, the basic things. Those things we want to set as example for the youngsters.”

Malinga, who made his ODI debut way back in 2004, has lost some of his pace over the years, but has maintained his skill levels and still possesses a vicious yorker, which he used to great effect against England. England captain Eoin Morgan wasn’t surprised.

“I think the performance... Mally has been around for a long time. Him coming in and bowling like that isn't surprising at all,” he said.

Despite the heroic win, Sri Lanka's chances of making the semi-finals appear dim on account of their slow start to the tournament. Karunaratne is aware of this and is not looking too far ahead, and is instead focusing on tackling each game as it comes.

“We want to go one by one – the next game is with South Africa. So we want to play and win that match, that is our main focus. So we keep focussing on that match so, after that, if we can win it, then we go for the next one. That is what we are planning, one by one.”