Sri Lanka sweat on Murali fitness

Chaminda Vaas and Suraj Randiv called up as cover ahead of Cricket World Cup final against India.

    Muralitharan enjoyed the crowd acknowledgment after playing his last game on home soil in the semifinal [AFP]

    Sri Lanka have called up Chaminda Vaas and Suraj Randiv as potential cover for Muttiah Muralitharan ahead of their mouth-watering Cricket World Cup final against India on Saturday.

    Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss was confident "chances are good'' that Muralitharan will be able to play his last match for his country.

    Muralitharan's participation in what is scheduled to be his last international match appears to be in danger because of nagging leg injuries, and Randiv is on standby for him. Veteran seamer Vaas is on standby for Angelo Mathews, who left the field early in the semifinal win over New Zealand with a side strain.

    The 38-year-old spinner will end his international career after the World Cup, and Bayliss is convinced Muralitharan will "play even with discomfort.''


    Saturday's game will also be a showdown between two of the leading characters in world cricket, featuring cricket's best batsman against the most prolific bowler.

    Sachin Tendulkar on his home ground, bidding for a first title in six trips to the World Cup, will take on Muttiah Muralitharan, aiming to win it again in his last international match.

    Tendulkar will be under enormous pressure, with India desperate to end a 28-year wait for their second World Cup title and become the first country to win it on home soil. Murali is under an injury cloud, which makes him dangerous.

    "Chaminda Vaas and Suraj Randiv will be included in the Sri Lankan squad for the World Cup final as cover for the injured (Muttiah) Muralitharan and  (Angelo) Mathews," Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement.

    Vaas, 37 and Randiv, 26, were due to fly out to Mumbai ahead of Saturday's title match against India.

    Muralitharan, who turns 39 next month, has played through the six-week tournament despite suffering hamstring and groin injuries, a side strain and a troublesome knee.

    Coach confident

    Bayliss insisted on Thursday that Muralitharan will play against India.

    "He completed 10 overs in the semifinal, and such is the character of the man that he will play even with discomfort," said Bayliss.
    Sri Lanka, 1996 winners and 2007 finalists, want to win the cup for legendary spinner Muralitharan who will retire after a world record haul of 800 Test and 534 one-day wickets.

    Vaas, who was part of the 1996 winning team, played his last Test in July 2009 having taken 355 wickets.

    He has 400 one-day wickets but his last international was against India in August 2008 where he dismissed Yuvraj Singh for a duck.

    Randiv, who made his one-day debut against India in 2009, has taken 22 ODI wickets.

    He last played when Sri Lanka toured Australia for a one-day series last year.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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