Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, who bid adieu to the one-day internationals following the opening ODI of the three-match series against Bangladesh on Friday, has called on the young cricketers of his country to be "match-winners" if they want to reach greater heights in the sport.
Malinga brought curtains down to his illustrious 15-year-long ODI career on a high note as he finished with brilliant figures of three for 38 to guide Sri Lanka to a 91-run win over Bangladesh at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Speaking during the post-match presentation, Malinga insisted that he had always tried to deliver his best whenever he was asked to bowl by his captain as he urged the young players to step up and look to be a match-winners in order to go far in the sport.
"My captains expect me to take wickets.I tried my best all through my career. I hope all the young bowlers do this as well. Because just surviving in cricket, I don't think anyone can go far. You have to be a match-winner,"the International Cricket Council (ICC) quoted Malinga as saying.
"That's what I'm looking forward to in the future. These young bowlers have to get match-winning performances and people have to say, 'That's a match-winning bowler!' We have a couple of guys, they have the ability, we have to look after them, "the Sri Lankan pacer, who will turn 36 next month, added.
Malinga, who opted to bow out in front of the home crowd, further stressed that it was the right time to move on from the ODIs as Sri Lanka prepare to rebuild for the next ICC World Cup in 2023.
"I've played the last 15 years for Sri Lanka. Really an honour to play, and really happy to play for these people and for all the crowd that's been behind me. I feel this is the time I have to move on because we have to build for the 2023 World Cup and that's why I realised, 'OK, my time is up, I have to go'," he said.
The three-wicket haul against Bangladesh saw Malinga end his 50-over career as the side's third-highest wicket-taker with 338 wickets in 226 ODIs. He is standing only behind Muttiah Muralitharan (523) and Chaminda Vaas (399) in the list of the Sri Lankan players with most ODI wickets in their tally.
The 35-year-old has also dethroned former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble from the ninth-place on the list of all-time highest wicket-takers. Meanwhile, he ended his campaign at the recently-concluded ICC World Cup 2019 as Sri Lanka's highest wicket-taker with 13 scalps from seven innings.
Malinga, who retired from Test cricket in 2011 after battling a nagging knee injury, had earlier announced in March that he would end his T20I career after the ICC T20 World Cup in 2020.