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Why not again' was the on-loop mental soundtrack playing on Lasith Malinga's head each time he stood atop his bowling run-up during his four of four phase. When the fast, dipping yorker still capable of such devastation, why veer away from it for another batsman. Hamish Rutherford, an 11th hour replacement in an injury-riddled New Zealand squad probably knew what to expect given Malinga was into his 15th year in international cricket. But nothing, not even the sight of Colin Munro's re-arranged stumps, prepared him for what was to come.

Rutherford wore the yorker on his pads and had the (mis)fortune of watching the Malinga theatre on the giant screen as he waited for the three while waiting for three reds to officially send him on his way. Malinga, who half-appealed, half-celebrated and later called for an immediate review, had seen the wicket coming from his bowling run-up.

After taking the first wicket, the newcomer [Rutherford] was an inexperienced left-hander. I thought of getting him out in the first ball. My best weapon is the inswinging yorker, so I thought of using that and he got out," he would say later, before elaborating how the same strategy also worked for batsmen on the other end of the experience and form spectrum - Ross Taylor and Colin de Grandhomme.

Then came de Grandhome and Taylor. These two guys have been a real headache for us throughout the series. The other bowlers failed to get them in the other match. I was thinking how to get these two guys, and I knew we could win the game if we get them. I thought that if I could bowl two yorkers, then why not the third? So I got back to my mental preparation that I do before I bowl a yorker, and walked back to my run-up.

"The timing and accuracy was there and I got the third wicket. When I got the third, I was thinking again: 'Why not try it a fourth time?' It was all the same preparation again and I did it."

And he had. More than 12 years after he shook the cricketing world with a dramatic four-wicket burst against South Africa in the 2007 World Cup, Malinga had repeated his magic feat at a ripe age of 36 - at a time when fast bowlers begin dreaming about life on a hammock by the beach. Malinga's burst ensured Sri Lanka defended what was a paltry score of 125 to walk away with a consolation victory in the T20I series.

I always come to every match thinking I can turn the game around," Malinga said after the match. The skill that I have in taking wickets, considering the experience, is more than any other player on the field. I don't care who believes that or not, but I believe that. So I want to control the game as soon as I get the ball in hand," the veteran fast bowler said.

Enroute his fifth hat-trick in international cricket, Malinga also became the first male cricketer to pick 100 T20I wickets, a feat he didn't dwell on for too long in his post-game debrief. He did, however, hope that his Pallekele exploits would fuel his own teammates' aspirations to achieve similar levels of excellence.

It's just another achievement for me. It happened today and it's history now, but if I was hit badly tomorrow, these four wickets and the other achievements are all forgotten," he said. "But then, I am really happy that I could take four wickets in four balls in T20s as well, because I am playing in the latter part of my career.

"All the younger players who played with me, could see it with their own eyes. I think that could have been an inspiration to them and maybe they also think that they can do something like this. That's what an up-and-coming player needs - to see something happen, and train towards that."