Lasith Malinga retired on a high from ODIs during the series against Bangladesh which was immediately played after Sri Lanka's disappointing 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup campaign. However, the 36-year-old pacer has shown that he is still a potent force in the Twenty20 Internationals and during the first match against New Zealand in Pallekele, Malinga put on a show which fetched him a new world record. However, it was bittersweet as Sri Lanka lost a high-scoring game by five wickets in Pallekele to give New Zealand a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Sri Lanka chose to bat in a match which began late due to rain and they were boosted by an aggressive knock of 79 from Kusal Mendis. Mendis shared a partnership of 63 with Niroshan Dickwella and a couple of big hits in the last over from Isuru Udana helped Sri Lanka end on 174/4 after 20 overs. In the New Zealand innings, Malinga put on an exhibition which thrilled the fans in Pallekele.
In the very first ball of the New Zealand innings, Malinga bowled Colin Munro for 0 with his vintage toe-crushing yorker. The wicket helped him draw level with former Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi for most wickets in Twenty20 Internationals with 98.
However, New Zealand staged a revival with Colin de Grandhomme and Ross Taylor stitching a 79-run stand for the fourth wicket. With the Kiwis coasting towards victory, Malinga produced one more spell of magic and he cleaned up de Grandhomme with a brilliant yorker for 44. The wicket gave Malinga a new record and he became the leading wicket-taker in T20Is with 99.
The match headed towards a close finish and Malinga, who had figures of 3-0-8-2 was tasked to give Sri Lanka a miraculous win. However, his first ball was a disaster as it went for five wides and on the fifth ball, Malinga was thumped for a big six by Daryl Mitchell as he leaked 15 runs in the over to end with figures of 4-0-23-2. New Zealand won the match by five wickets but heading into the next game at the same venue on September 3, Malinga will be gunning for a special century as he aims to become the first bowler to take 100 wickets in T20Is.