Maverick Lasith Malinga not only kept his word to turn up to play Provincial Cricket but gave his Galle side a sensational start in the Super Four Provincial tournament claiming career best figures of seven for 49 to secure a massive 156 run win at Pallekele yesterday.
Sri Lanka Cricket had released Malinga to play the IPL, but he volunteered to take a break from the IPL duty to be involved in the domestic tournament and was on the money bowling his quota of ten overs unchanged.
There was little hope that Malinga will be available for his team’s first game yesterday as Mumbai Indians had a home game on Wednesday and after a mid-night finish, he managed to catch a flight back to Colombo and then took the trouble to get to Kandy on the morning of the game. There was less than 12 hours between the IPL game and the Inter-Provincial opener and in between, he took a flight and then the road trip to Kandy.
All of that didn’t deter Malinga as he was on song taking the first five Kandy wickets to fall. He was well backed up by Dushmantha Chameera, who was making a comeback after an ankle injury. Chameera finished with three for 27 as Kandy were bowled out for 99 inside 19 overs. Malinga polished off the tail claiming the last two wickets. This is his career best figures in List A (domestic one-day) games.
Galle’s total of 255 in 50 overs was propelled by half-centuries from Sandun Weerakkody (56) and Kusal Mendis (65). Kasun Rajitha and Jeffrey Vandersay claimed three wickets each for Kandy.
Meanwhile, at Dambulla, Colombo beat the hosts by 82 runs. Opening batsman Avishka Fernando gave Colombo a fine start posting 54 off 52 balls with seven fours and a six. He shared 66 runs for the opening wicket with Upul Tharanga (12). All-rounder Chamika Karunaratne then helped Colombo to a competitive total posting 57 off 53 deliveries with four fours and two sixes.
Leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis finished with four for 46 for Dambulla.
Dambulla failed to get a decent start with the top four – all World Cup hopefuls – falling to single digit scores. Niroshan Dickwella (6), Danushka Gunathilaka (3), Oshada Fernando (6) and captain Angelo Mathews (1) all failed to make an impact and after being 18 for four, they failed to recover.
Suranga Lakmal was on the money, accounting for three of the top four wickets. He was well backed up by seamers Asitha Fernando and Chamika Karunaratne, who finished with two wickets apiece.