History-making Lasith Malinga played down his landmark second World Cup hat-trick, insisting that his famous four wickets in four balls against South Africa in 2007 was a greater achievement.
The 27-year-old seamer’s trademark collection of yorkers and toe-crushers helped him to a career-best 6-38 as Sri Lanka beat Kenya by nine wickets on Tuesday to put his team back on top of World Cup Group A.
His next target will be to repeat the feat against defending champions Australia on Saturday.
“I rate my performance in 2007 better than this because at that stage South Africa were virtually winning the game and I was able to get the hat-trick and brought Sri Lanka back into the game,” said Malinga of the match which South Africa won by one wicket.
Four years ago, his hat-trick victims were Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall and Jacques Kallis with Makyaha Ntini the fourth to fall.
On Tuesday, he trapped Tanmay Mishra (0) lbw with the last ball of his seventh over.
At the start of his next, he bowled Peter Ongondo and Shem Ngoche in successive balls to complete his hat-trick, finishing the innings at 142, by bowling Elijah Otieno (0) to complete a four-wicket burst off six balls.
“But again achieving a hat-trick is big and also the fact that I ended up with six wickets in a World Cup game, that gives lot of satisfaction,” said Malinga, whose previous best of 5-34 came against Pakistan last year.
“Whenever the captain hands me the ball I am prepared to be at the service of my team and I do my utmost to contribute to the team’s effort and I am happy that I was able to do this well,” said Malinga.
“Australia is another game. Their tactics, their players are not new to me. I’ll bowl what I think I should bowl at that time.”
The Sri Lankan seamer, with the distinct slingy action, admitted that sitting out of the first two matches of the World Cup with a back strain had been disappointing.
“I was rather upset that I was not able to play, but I was quite happy when the team was performing well, winning the first match and coming quite close to beating Pakistan,” he said.
“It gave me a lot of heart to overcome my injury and get back. Hopefully I will be able to overcome the Australian challenge as well,” said Malinga, who added he learnt to bowl yorkers by watching Pakistan greats Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.
“I have learnt a lot from my coaches, mainly from Champaka Ramanayke and by watching people like Waqar and Wasim but I have three deliveries other than my yorkers, so I want to use them more in future games.”
Malinga, who now has 120 wickets in 78 matches, told the Sinhalese-language Divaina newspaper that the R. Premasada stadium pitch required a bowler to think about his approach and variation.
“The pitch we played was not a fast one. So I decided that I should bowl yorkers. My prediction proved right,” he said.
He added: “I was fit to play against Pakistan. But considering the future matches it was a team decision that I sit it out.”
Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara commended his front line bowler saying he did a great demolition job.
“Lasith as usual, the champion that he is, the ball reversing, he did a great job for us.”