Sri Lankan hero Lasith Malinga in jubilation after claiming one of his four wickets during their sensational win against England on Friday. Image Credit: AFP

Southampton: Lasith Malinga’s deadly four-wicket spell that ensured Sri Lanka a victory has suddenly pushed favourites England to the depth of despair. ‘The Times’ headline screamed aptly: ‘Brainless England fall to the magic of Malinga.’

All that 35-year-old Malinga did was to wreck a batting line-up like he had always done in his career when he is on rhythm. His went on to reveal how he’d planned England’s downfall. “We stuck to our plan - good line and length, and variation of slower ball and bouncer.”

Malinga has been showered with praise by all former cricketers from around the world. Former Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene tweeted: “Lasith Malinga you beauty, well done under pressure you delivered.” He was also congratulated by all players of Mumbai Indians, the team he plays for in the Indian Premier League, including the team’s mentor Sachin Tendulkar.

Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne calls Malinga a legend. “I think he’s a legend. He knew what he had to do. He sets a good example for the rest of the guys.”

England star batsman Jos Buttler said that it was never easy to read Malinga. “He is just different. And as much as you face him (over the years), he is different.”

Malinga, playing in his last World Cup, has 51 wickets in all from the showpiece. His haul of four for 43 has now positioned him as the fourth bowler to take 50 or more wickets in the World Cup, joining names like Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan and Wasim Akram.

Karunaratne also hailed Angelo Mathews. “Even Angelo, both of them did a really good job. These are the things we need to do..turning the game every time. Performances like these changes the shape of the game.”

Karunaratne feels that his team now has a chance to reach the semi-finals but he appealed for more focus from his players. “We want to take one game at a time, and our next one is with South Africa. Our main focus is to win that match.”

The Sri Lankan skipper had advised his players to be patient and hang on. “I think we had given some advantage to England in the earlier part of the game. But then we realised that if we hang on we definitely have a chance. We needed to get a couple of wickets to get into the game.” They hung on, and Malinga did the job of giving them the wickets.