March 26, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011

Murali worry for England

Akhila Ranganna

In the Guardian Duncan Fletcher writes that Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka's sorcerer, can drive England to distraction in their quarter-final game, but England have to work how how to handle him. Sweeping could just be be the key.

You have to sweep Murali to negate the variation in spin. With the sweep it does not matter which way the ball is going to turn. Then you force Murali to adjust his length by pulling it back a little shorter to stop you playing the shot. Do that and it means you can play him off the back foot. Then you have a little bit more time to read the spin of the ball off the pitch. This is crucial. It is very difficult to read Murali's bowling in the air because, unlike most off-spinners, the ball always has a scrambled seam, whether it is a doosra or an off-break.

Should England beat Sri Lanka, Saturday will be Muttiah Muralitharan’s last day of international cricket writes Scyld Berry in The Telegraph. But such is the potency of the man, who has probably journeyed further than any cricketer, of any country, should England lose, no one should begrudge Muralitharan.

From this springboard of St Anthony’s in Kandy, Murali has leapt on to the high wire and stayed there for two decades, never falling into the political mire, beside which the controversies about his action have been trivial. He did not let slip a comment favouring one side or the other in the civil war. Yet he has helped all sides with the finest humanitarian work that any cricketer has done, driving his lorry to tsunami-hit areas and still funding the Foundation of Goodness which does truly worthwhile work in more than 20 villages.

The Independent's Stephen Brenkley predicts more success for Murali in the quarter-final game against England.

He will do the same today in Sri Lanka's World Cup quarter-final tie against England. Some poor sap will try to hit him over the top or plunge forward desperately and next thing you know Murali will have his arms aloft, his mischievously beaming face that of a kid allowed the run of a chocolate factory.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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