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Sri Lanka v England, World Cup 2011, Colombo

Bayliss backs Muralitharan to play quarter-final

Sidharth Monga

March 23, 2011

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Muttiah Muralitharan appeals successfully for lbw against Ross Taylor, New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Group A, World Cup 2011, Mumbai, March 18, 2011
Muttiah Muralitharan is on course to be fit for Sri Lanka's quarter-final clash against England in Colombo on Saturday © Getty Images

Trevor Bayliss, Sri Lanka's coach, has said that Muttiah Muralitharan looks good to get back to match fitness for Sri Lanka's quarter-final against England on Saturday. Murali had sustained a hamstring injury during Sri Lanka's comprehensive win against New Zealand last Friday. That he didn't bowl in the nets today - three days before the game - would have been a concern, but Bayliss said Murali had managed to play with niggles in the past, and this should not be too different.

"He didn't bowl against the batsmen in the nets, but he did bowl for some 20 minutes at the back," Bayliss said. "We are very confident that he will play, and I think he's pretty confident he will play as well. He's a guy that has played through a few niggles in the past, and I'm sure he'll be fine, come game day."

Even on one leg, Murali was a puzzle New Zealand couldn't solve in Mumbai. He spent time off the field and therefore started late, coming on in the 18th over. After his first over, he rushed off the field again, but came back to rip the heart out of New Zealand's middle order, dismissing Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Scott Styris and James Franklin.

It is hardly a wonder that Murali will be a starter even if he is not completely fit against a side that is historically not known to be great against spin; a side that could not break free from the stranglehold of the Bangladesh spinners in a league game in this tournament. Bayliss had no doubts about Murali's importance to the team, but also said that the side is not as singularly reliant on him as in the past.

"He's certainly an important part of the team," Bayliss said. "What we have been trying to achieve here is to try and get some of our young players to live up to world-class standards. Over the last few years, we have had a number of young debutants playing the game; you have a look at some of the guys like [Ajantha] Mendis, [Angelo] Mathews, Thisara Perera, those type of guys have done extremely well and have played a big part in the success of our team."

For Bayliss personally, any of the next three games could be his last as Sri Lanka's coach. He wants all three of them. "A successful three games would be nice, but all along the way what we've tried to do is play good cricket and give ourselves a chance to win. We believe if we play good cricket, we'll be very difficult to beat."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 15 
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Posted by Daya on (March 25, 2011, 20:13 GMT)

Kugan Kn, have you been following the world cup ??? There is no way you can see a India-Pak final ! Indial and Pak will play semi final and ONE of them will play the final..I also agree SL middle order is not good and I'm not too impressed with the impact of Tharanga-Dilshan in big games ( forget minnow bashing ), HOWEVER, IF SL wins over Eng and can repeast a win against NZ, SL can still play a final....in a final, it can anybodys game...So I'm keeping y fingers crossed for SL-Eng match !

Posted by jai on (March 25, 2011, 5:23 GMT)

IT would be a dream final. Two greats ending their WC campaign in style and obviously with the Indians winning. Murali has been the greatest server of cricket.

Posted by Ranura on (March 25, 2011, 2:06 GMT)

dnt wry Man007. v'll meet ur team in final!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 25, 2011, 0:33 GMT)

being a sri lankan, i think its difficult to win the world cup. seeing pakistan(vs WI) n india(vs AUS), the chance we will win the world cup is so small, we dont really have the best team, no depth in batting. we have only 4 big match players, dilli,tharanga, mahela,sanga. i think pakistan/india will reach finals n win the world cup. sad we dont have a competitive team this time.

Posted by karan on (March 24, 2011, 21:18 GMT)

Murali should play because other than him Sri Lanka doesn't have genuine match winners...just pretenders like Jaya, Sanga & Dilshan

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

Man007 looks like india is going out in a few hours...bye bye bye....see u in 2015

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2011, 7:47 GMT)

Murali, you are a great son of Mother Lanka.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 24, 2011, 3:58 GMT)

Good Luck Murali!!! Going to miss you after the WC!! Good Luck!! Hope to see u in the finals with ur magic spin!!

Posted by Manesh on (March 24, 2011, 3:40 GMT)

Bye Bye Lanka...thanks for being the co host of WC. Now you people can just relax.

Posted by Tuan on (March 23, 2011, 19:13 GMT)

Diliboy & Chamara Silva should get into form back again. It would be detrimental if they did not perform as expected.

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