43

Malinga slings four in four

South Africa needed four runs to win against Sri Lanka, with five wickets in hand, when Lasith Malinga ripped them apart

The game seemed dead and buried; South Africa were chasing 210 and Jacques Kallis held one end up as they moved slowly towards the target. Kallis and Shaun Pollock were batting when Mahela Jayawardene threw the ball to Lasith Malinga in the 45th over. South Africa needed four to win with five wickets in hand.

After attempting four yorkers, Malinga surprised Pollock with a slower one that went past the waft to hit leg stump. But even when Andrew Hall scooped the next delivery, a yorker, straight to cover, there was no real sense of a collapse in the air.

However, the situation dramatically altered in Malinga's next over. Kallis edged an intended square drive to the wicketkeeper - the hat-trick - and Makhaya Ntini couldn't put any wood behind a screaming yorker. All of a sudden, Malinga had four in four and ten deliveries left.

It was nearly over the very next ball as a thunderbolt yorker curved past Charl Langeveldt's bat and shaved the off stump. The camera panned to the South African dressing room: they looked shell-shocked. Langeveldt survived nine tense deliveries that included a maiden from Chaminda Vaas, and Robin Peterson faced up to Malinga in the 49th over. The first ball flew past the outside edge but the second cleared the slip fielder and ran away to the third-man boundary. South Africa managed to win a game that they had no business losing anyway, but Malinga had so nearly pulled a Houdini on them.

"Before Malinga's feat, no bowler in one-day history had managed four in four... and in so doing threatened to produce the greatest one-day turnaround," Tony Greig said. "South Africa tried to laugh off the tag of chokers, but they were within a hair's breadth, on that day, of doing what even they have never done before."

Sri Lanka may have lost that game but Malinga's performance brought their campaign alive. South Africa sank in the semi-final while Sri Lanka marched on to the final, where they were taken down by a brutal knock from Adam Gilchrist.