The viral image of Lasith Malinga, which was used by trolls to mock his “non-athletic body”, has been used by former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene to praise his starring role in the win over England.
Malinga had received a lot of flak after his side's poor run in the ongoing World Cup 2019, after he was photographed with his shirt off, exposing a portly belly. But he answered his critics emphatically on Friday as he picked up four key wickets to help his side earn a famous victory and earn two crucial points that keeps the semi-final race alive.
Using the viral image, Jayawardene praised Malinga for his ability to step up in big games and said, “cricket is not about a six pack, but about the skill and Lasith Malinga showed that in spades in Sri Lanka's win over England,"
The 35-year-old rolled back the years at Headingley when he removed England openers James Vince and Jonny Bairstow. He then got rid of dangermen Joe Root and Jos Buttler to leave England in turmoil.
"He has done it so many times for Sri Lanka over the years but it was great to see him at his best. He was on a mission with the new ball. Big players perform in big games and that is what he did, removing Root and then Jos Buttler who could have won the game for England as well," Jayawardane wrote in a column for the International Cricket Council.
Coming into the game as underdogs, Dimuth Karunaratne's side blew open the race for semi-final places with their unexpected victory and Jayawardene said that is good for the tournament.
England, bidding to win the World Cup for the first time, suffered their second defeat of the group stage following an equally surprising loss to Pakistan. "It's a great win for Sri Lanka, but also for the World Cup and it opens things up a little," said Jayawardene.
"The top four so far have a lot of matches against each other coming up, so they will inevitably drop some points.
You look at New Zealand, Australia and England who all have to play each other which does make it interesting."
"That leaves Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies with a chance to close the gap if they can pick up a few more wins." Sri Lanka, the 1996 champions, are fifth in the 10-team table, as they hunt a top four finish.