ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Sri Lanka v England, World Cup 2011, Colombo
Bayliss backs Muralitharan to play quarter-final
March 23, 2011
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."