When Sanath killed it at the death…with the ball, that is!

Since 2002, the year since which ball-by-ball data for matches is available, and until 2009, the year in which he last bowled at the death, he had bowled 142.2 overs between the 41st and 50th overs, a number that is only bettered by Muthiah Muralidaran among Sri Lankans. His economy rate of 6.19 during these overs is better than both Lasith Malinga’s and Chaminda Vaas’.

Given his ability to bowl flat and quick, and his canny variations in pace and the angle of delivery, Sanath was ahead of his time not only with the bat but also with the ball. At the death, he consistently clocked north of 100kmph, slinging the ball into the blockhole from his left-arm angle—a skill that would have made any modern shorter-format left-arm spinner envious. Accordingly, it is unsurprising that Sanath was one of the go-to men of his captains at the death.

As an homage to this less spoken-about skill of the Sri Lankan legend, here we recount five of his most memorable death-over masterclasses.

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