Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews had won the toss at Hagley Oval and chosen to give his bowlers the first crack at New Zealand in the World Cup's opening match.
Standing at the other end was the explosive Brendon McCullum, bristling with assured swagger and with the eye and hand speed that has torn apart pace attacks all around the world, especially in the last 12 months.
Malinga, who had already conceded five runs in the first four balls in a wayward over, the second of the innings, charged in and then watched as McCullum scythed the delivery to the cover boundary for his second four of the day.
It was the first shot in a battle that went New Zealand's way from then on.
By the end of Malinga's fourth over, one in which McCullum took 22 runs from four boundaries and a six from a free hit, he had figures of 0-42 and was a beaten man.
Malinga ended the game with 0-84 from 10 overs, the third most expensive return in career and even his own team mates acknowledged he had not bowled well.
"I don't think it was Malinga's best bowling," batsman Lahiru Thirimanne told reporters. "(But) we believe he will come back strongly in the next few matches.
"I thought he bowled well in the death overs and that's a positive for us," he said.

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