With chants of ‘Mali, Mali’ resounding inside the 40,000 capacity stadium, the old warhorse did not let his fans down in his final ODI appearance.
Malinga responded to their call by capturing the wickets of Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal (0) and Soumyar Sarkar (15) both falling to his trademark inswinging yorkers in his first spell that yielded two wickets for 12 runs off five overs (2 maidens). Then with Sri Lanka scenting victory Malinga returned for his final spell to finish off the match as he had done on so many occasions by getting the wicket of tailender Mustafizur Rahman for 18 caught by Thisara Perera at mid-off to bow out in style.
Malinga ended his final ODI appearance with figures of 3 for 38 off 9.4 overs and a career haul of 338 wickets (avg. 28.87) from 226 ODIs.
Bangladesh chasing a target of 315 were bowled out for 223 in 41.4 overs with Nuwan Pradeep joining Malinga in the wicket count with three wickets for 51. Dhananjaya de Silva picked up two wickets with his probing off-breaks as Bangladesh struggled to come to terms with a pitch that had slowed down gradually after Sri Lanka had made first use of it to rattle off an impressive 314-8.
Bangladesh slumped to 39-4 but recovered to 150-5 courtesy a fifth wicket stand of 111 off 99 balls between Mushfiqur Rahim and Sabbir Rahman. But once the stand was broken Bangladesh found the going tough. Sabbir struck seven fours in his 56-ball 60, but Mushfiqur who tried to steer the innings took 86 balls for 67 (5 fours). None of the other Bangladeshi batsmen were comfortable as Sri Lanka applied the pressure on them by cutting off the boundaries. With pressure mounting as the asking rate the batsmen contributed to their own downfall.
Kusal Perera ensured that fast bowling icon Malinga got a proper farewell from ODI cricket when he thumped his fifth century in the format to see Sri Lanka reach a competitive total after choosing to bat first.
Perera blasted 111 off 99 balls inclusive of 17 fours and one six to become the first Sri Lankan in five years to score an ODI century at this venue. The last to do so was Tillakaratne Dilshan when he made 101 against England in 2014.
Perera was dominant right throughout his innings putting together partnerships of 97 with his captain Dimuth Karunaratne (36) and 100 with Kusal Mendis (43).
Following their dismissals Angelo Mathews (48 off 52 balls) and Lahiru Thirmanne (25) forged a further useful stand of 60 off 64 balls for the fifth wicket.
Mathews made certain that Sri Lanka crossed the 300-run mark before he was dismissed going for a slog to reach his half century but holing out Sabbir at long-off.
At one time it seemed like Sri Lanka would get to a total beyond 350 when Perera was accelerating at great pace and Sri Lanka at the end of 30 overs were 198-2. But following Perera’s dismissal in the 33rd over, Bangladesh managed to pull things back and keep Sri Lanka’s total down.
Malinga came to bat at the fall of Mathews’ wicket to a rousing reception from the crowd. They greeted him by putting their mobile phones on flashlight mode so that the entire stands were illuminated with specs of white like fireflies. The Slinga did not disappoint his fans scoring an unbeaten six runs off six balls in his final ODI innings.
Sri Lanka lost the services of wicket-keeper Kusal Perera in the middle of the eighth over at the fall of Mithun’s wicket when he retired to the pavilion and was replaced by another Kusal – Kusal Mendis behind the wickets.
Sri Lanka team manager Ashantha de Mel said that Perera had complained of pain in his back and his calves and he was treated with ice. He did not return to the field for the rest of the match, but was present at the presentation award to receive the Man of the Match award.