Sri Lanka bowling spearhead Lasith Malinga took four wickets in four balls for the second time in his career to lead Sri Lanka to a 37-run consolation win over New Zealand in the third and final Twenty20 international on Friday.
Malinga returned career-best figures of 5 for 6 to bundle up New Zealand for 88 while chasing 126 in Kandy. However, owing to an unassailable lead, the Black Caps won the three-match series 2-1.
The 36-year-old Malinga bowled Colin Munro for 12 on the third ball of his second over to become the first T20 bowler to claim 100 wickets.
Malinga then sent Hamish Rutherford, Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor back to the pavilion on balls four, five and six, respectively, as he raised the roof in front of a raucous home crowd. In no time, New Zealand slipped to 15 for four.
It was only the third time a bowler had taken four wickets in as many balls in internationals, after Malinga himself against South Africa at the 2007 World Cup, and Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan earlier this year.
Malinga now has five hat-tricks in international cricket to his name, with three in one-day internationals and two in T20Is.
Malinga, who surpassed Pakistan spinner Shahid Afridi’s tally of 97 scalps to become the leading T20 international wicket-taker on Sunday, came back in his third over to get Tim Seifert for eight, and registered his second five-wicket haul in T20Is.
The veteran speedster, who retired from Test cricket in 2011 and played his farewell one-day international in July, has improved his T20 tally to 104 wickets in 76 matches.
Akila Dananjaya backed up his captain’s effort with two wickets while Lakshan Sandakan wrapped up the win in 16 overs after trapping Seth Rance lbw for eight.
New Zealand skipper Tim Southee remained unbeaten on 28.
Earlier, spinners Mitchell Santner and Todd Astle shared three wickets each to keep Sri Lanka to 125 for eight after the hosts elected to bat first.
Santner returned impressive bowling figures of 3 for 12 from his four overs, including a maiden with his left-arm spin.
Opener Danushka Gunathilaka top-scored with 30 before falling to Astle’s leg-spin as Sri Lanka lost their way after the powerplay.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Niroshan Dickwella (24), Lahiru Madushanka (20) and Wanindu Hasaranga (14 not out) were the only other home players to reach double figures.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 125 for 8 in 20 overs (Danushka Gunathilaka 30; Mitchell Santner 3/12, Todd Astle 3/28) defeated New Zealand (Tim Southee 28; Lasith Malinga 5/6, Akila Dananjaya 2/28)