By Amlan Chakraborty
LEEDS, England (Reuters) – Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne lamented his team’s failure to give pace spearhead Lasith Malinga a fitting World Cup farewell after their comprehensive defeat in their final group match against India on Saturday.
Sri Lanka overcame a top-order collapse to post a competitive 264-7, which India chased down with 6.3 overs to spare.
Malinga bled 82 runs in his 10 overs for the lone wicket of centurion KL Rahul in his World Cup swansong to finish with 13 wickets from seven matches, including a four-wicket masterclass that upstaged England.
“Of course, I thought if we can win, it’s good for Lasith,” Karunaratne told reporters.
“We all wanted to give him a nice farewell but unfortunately we couldn’t. But I think we tried really hard.”
“But Mali is going to play another couple of games in Sri Lanka against Bangladesh. We’ll try to give him a nice send-off at that time.”
Since his 2004 debut against United Arab Emirates, Malinga has played 225 ODIs and his unusual slingy action and an ability to bowl yorkers have made him a formidable bowler in limited overs cricket.
Malinga’s 56 wickets from 29 matches put him third, behind Australian Glenn McGrath (71) and fellow Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (68), in the list of most successful bowlers in the history of the World Cup.
The right-arm paceman, a sought-after player in Twenty20 leagues, has also played 30 tests though he quit the long format in 2011 after battling a nagging knee injury.
Karunaratne said Sri Lanka would have to find a replacement to fill the void.
“Sri Lankan cricket will miss him,” the captain said at the presentation ceremony.
“In Test cricket and one-day cricket, he was the man. He’s done a really good job. Everyone has to end their chapter and we have to find a new guy as we lack bowlers to get wickets in the middle overs.”
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Leeds; editing by Clare Fallon)