Sri Lanka defended their moderate total of 125-8 largely through the magnificence of Malinga who bowled a destructive first spell of three overs where he captured the first five New Zealand wickets to have them tottering at 23-5 in the fifth over. Only some late resistance from the New Zealand skipper Tim Southee named Player of the Series -28 not out off 23 balls (3 sixes) saw them reach 88 all out in 16 overs.
Malinga ended with the unique figures of 5 for 6 off 4 overs with one maiden to take the Player of the Match award.
Sri Lanka looked over and done with when their batting was reduced to a mere 125-8 by New Zealand spinners left-armer Mitchell Santner and leg-spinner Tod Astle as they captured six wickets between them 40 runs in 8 overs.
None of the batsmen could go on and put up a decent score on the board with opener Danushka Gunathilaka’s 30 off 25 balls (4 fours) turning out to be the top score of the match.
Niroshan Dickwella made 24 and debutant Lahiru Madushanka 20 but otherwise it was a poor batting display by the Lankans after they had won the toss for the third consecutive time in the series and decided to bat first.
In the circumstances the target looked like a cakewalk for the New Zealanders who had already sealed the series by taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead by winning the first two matches.
However they didn’t account for Malinga to turn on one of his brilliant displays of fast bowling. The Slinga as he is referred to throughout the world single-handedly turned the match Sri Lanka’s way in a sensational second over.
His first over Malinga conceded three runs but in his second over he yorked Colin Munro for 12 with his third ball, then trapped Hamish Rutherford lbw off the fourth (winning a review after the umpire had negatived the appeal), then yorked Colin de Grandhomme with the fifth to complete the hat-trick.
The stadium packed almost to capacity went crazy with each of Malinga’s strikes and were right behind urging him. The veteran bowler did not fail his supporters but obliged by having Ross Taylor trapped plumb in front off his sixth delivery of the over to enter the record books as the only bowler to take four wickets in four balls in ODIs and T20Is.
Malinga’s feat in T20Is has been achieved only once before by Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan when he took four wickets in four balls against Ireland in Deradun in February this year.
Malinga is also the only bowler to perform the hat-trick twice in T20Is having early done so against Bangladesh at the R Premadasa Stadium in 2017. Overall it is the eighth instance of bowlers performing a hat-trick in T20Is. Thisara Perera is the other Sri Lankan in the list to have done so against India at Ranchi in 2016.
When Malinga rattled Munro’s leg stump for his first wicket he became the first ball in T20I history to capture 100 wickets. At the end of the match he has taken his tally to 104 wickets from 76 matches.
His nearest rival is Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who has 88 from 72 matches.
The win ended a drought of seven T20I without a win for Sri Lanka over a period of one year.
New Zealand took the DFCC Bank trophy by winning the series 2-1.