Lasith Malinga, ace Sri Lankan bowler, announced his retirement from ODI cricket - after helping Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh with impressive figures of 3/38.
In fact, in the very last delivery of his career, the right-arm paceman dismissed Mustafizur Rahman for 18 runs and became the 9th highest wicket-taker of ODI cricket. And that truly feels like the perfect summary of his long and impressive on-field performance.
After 15 years of exemplary bowling, he was not just a gift to Sri Lanka, but to the world of cricket. He made his retirement announcement during the post-match presentation, while also giving advice to young bowlers:
I feel it's the right time for me to retire from ODIs. 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. 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."
With 338 wickets in 220 innings, Malinga finished as the third-highest wicket-taker in ODI cricket for Sri Lanka. In fact, he was also the team's highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded World Cup series. The only cricketer to have taken two World Cup hat-tricks (2007 vs South Africa, 2011 vs Kenya), Malinga had retired from Test cricket in 2011.
Many cricketers and fans of the game took to Twitter to congratulate Malinga for being an exemplary player throughout and to wish him luck for the future:
If I had to pick one match winner among many others for @mipaltan in the last decade, this man will be on the top for sure. As a captain he give me breather during tense situation and he never failed to deliver, such was his presence within the team. Best wishes LM for the future pic.twitter.com/gJJJKy8gL3— Rohit Sharma (@ImRo45) July 26, 2019
Another fast bowler calls it a day. Nothing but admiration for the mighty Lasith Malinga who is one of the greats of the white ball game. Big hearted, smiling and tough underneath the friendly air. A torch-bearer for the unorthodox.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) July 26, 2019
Classic Mali spell 🎯 Thank you for everything you've done for cricket. Always admired you and will always continue to do so 🤗.— Jasprit Bumrah (@Jaspritbumrah93) July 26, 2019
Congratulations on the glorious journey Yorker King #Malinga. There will never be another toe crusher like you again. Best wishes for your future endeavours. 👊#LasithMalinga pic.twitter.com/Uf0iD3SHdL— yuvraj singh (@YUVSTRONG12) July 26, 2019
Your bleached hair , golden yorkers and that ball kiss after every delivery .Grew up by seeing your bowling #Malinga .I know u r playing your last ODI today .All the best for rest of your career .👍 pic.twitter.com/HYcbUq853z— Aryan Raj (@AryanRaj2179) July 26, 2019
Your balling style will be there everyday in our memories.— Fathima Riha Salim (@RihaSalim) July 27, 2019
Your good name, always will be there in our hearts.❤️
You have given us many beautiful memories to remember. Gonna miss @Lasith99Malinga forever in SL ODI cricket #Malinga #LasithMalinga pic.twitter.com/4GGuIsTvwK
#Malinga Malinga is one of the best pace bowlers the world of cricket has produced-His appearance,bowling action&the balls he bowled were totally different-He will be remembered for the yorkers he had mastered-A likeable character;was Lanka's pride-We'll miss you-Enjoy retirement— sadanand (@sadanan12623697) July 27, 2019
Another chapter close from International cricket, Malinga gone away from ODIs he announced retirement after his last match with 🇧🇩 Ban.— Faisal Malik (@FaisalAwan803) July 27, 2019
3 times hatric and 4 wickets on 4 balls, only malinga could do this
Tribute to @Lasith99Malinga#ThankYouMalinga pic.twitter.com/Hmnjas0faK
His sense of style was as distinctive as bowling, and fans of cricket will surely miss the 'yorker king'.