ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Sri Lanka v New Zealand, 1st semi-final, World Cup 2011, Colombo

Muralitharan doubtful but Sangakkara upbeat

Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Colombo

March 28, 2011

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For the second match in succession, Sri Lanka are sweating over the fitness of Muttiah Muralitharan who is nursing a leg injury ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand tomorrow. "Murali and everyone around him is trying to get him as fit as possible and fit enough to play," Kumar Sangakkara said.

"It's no use thinking about the final and saving him for other games, this is the crunch game and if he can play tomorrow that'll be great for us, but if that doesn't work out, we've got enough cover to make sure that we are still a solid winning side."

"At the same time its two different injuries. He knocked his knee at Mumbai and he's just aggravated a quadricep muscle - a very slight strain - in the game before so it's not the same injury. We'll just have to monitor how he goes and hope he is fit enough to play."

Sangakkara said that with injuries, it was crucial to see that both the team and the player were comfortable with him taking part in the match, especially a big one like the semi-final. "If Murali is not fit it's something that we have to accept and get on with."

Having thrashed England by ten wickets in the quarter-finals, Sangakkara said that complacency is the last thing on Sri Lanka's radar. "There's no chance of that happening in anyone's mind. You understand the gravity of the situation, you understand the challenge that's going to come your way, you got to accept it and you got to enjoy it.

Muttiah Muralitharan does some stretches in training, Colombo, March 28, 2011
Muttiah Muralitharan is in doubt for the semi-final with a leg injury © AFP

"The guys have done pretty well and tomorrow is not going to be any different. You can't play too much to the crowds, or too much to show off, it's a question of playing good solid cricket, concentrate on doing the best. We have set ourselves small goals to achieve, if we keep our heads and we perform as well as we can, we can turn it into a solid performance."

"The expectations are always there, that's not something that we can control, what we really want to do is to make sure that when we go out tomorrow, we are realistic. We stay in the moment and make sure we concentrate on what we have to do and make sure our focus is 100 per cent on tomorrow."

Sangakkara said the win over England was made to look easy because the openers - Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga - came up with a magnificent batting performance. "Those kinds of partnerships don't come very often and that kind of overshadowed the contest as such. But England is a side that we were very wary of and we expected nothing less than their strong performance. In the light of that tomorrow it's a new game for us. It's nothing to do with England, we are starting from square one and we want to make sure that we understand that."

Sangakkara said that his team was building up momentum towards the final and that they were improving by the day. "In a tournament like this, there's never a point when you think over where you are the best. It never happens in cricket. Also in big tournaments it's always a question of gradual and continuous improvement for us. There are lots of areas we have to make sure we cover, we've done pretty much in the two days leading upto tomorrow. The guys are much focussed they are pretty confident but at the same time they understand that it is the performance that counts and that's what we are trying to deliver tomorrow."

Sri Lanka were second-placed in Group A in the league stage which was considered relatively easier compared to Group B but Sangakkara didn't think that was the case. "It's hard to say that we got lots of breaks in the group stages and very few breaks this time. That's not something that we can control, the schedule was set long before and we are happy that we have got here. Ours is to go one step further tomorrow."

Sri Lanka used three specialist spinners plus the occasional spin of Dilshan against England, but Sangakkara did not indicate what their plans were against New Zealand. "We thought that was the best combination to play against England. It was a very good track and it stayed true throughout. At the same time we have to consider other options as well. We have fast bowlers, especially Nuwan Kulasekara, who has done exceptionally well against New Zealand. So we got to make sure we play the right combination."

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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 29, 2011, 7:51 GMT)

Murali can rest play your best side fitness is very important.

Posted by harshini on (March 29, 2011, 6:48 GMT)

Suraj Randive is not in the squad so it has to be Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 29, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

i too believe, its advisable to rest Murali and bring in Suraj.he's an alrounder too. we can get murali safe to finals if we succeed today..

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 29, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

NZ all the way. They better not let Murali finish his 10 overs then leave the field, that's if he plays. Ryder to score a 100!!

Posted by Marcian on (March 29, 2011, 6:19 GMT)

jerryman, if Murali is replaced by Randiv, he [Murali] cant come back into the side for the final, even if he is fit again. In that hypothetical scenario, only way for Murali to come back is for him to replace another injured player! But, I like your idea. Murali will have to be replaced by a member of the WC squad; so that he can play again in the final, providing we win today.

Posted by Anver on (March 29, 2011, 6:14 GMT)

We all Sri Lankans want Murali to play this match but if he's not 100% fit, then rest him for final & give him a good farewell match in his last ODI.

Posted by sara on (March 29, 2011, 5:43 GMT)

SL should not risk playing Murali if he is not 100%, because they badly need him in the finals... If the rest of the team play solid cricket, and dont mess things up with droped catches etc, SL should easily be able to beat NZ without Murali. It is the duty of the other players to make sure that they play to their potential, and save Murali for the finals....

Posted by Shehan on (March 29, 2011, 5:03 GMT)

C'mon get Randiv in or use somebody else and move on at least now we need to learn how to manage without Murali. Dont get distracted due to one injured player does not matter who he is. We need to win the match concentrate on the rest of the squad who cud do it for u.The issue at hand is not murali being injured but we need to win a world cup semifinal go out there wih passion and win it for SL whoever gets out there !

Good luck.........

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 29, 2011, 4:57 GMT)

I m sure murali will play this encounter even after the injury. Murali has been a superstar for Srilankan cricket and his contributions for his team is unmatched. Even Sachin & Lara couldn't win as many matches as Murali has done singlehandedly. Come On Murali and poach the kiwis for an epic encounter with the Great Sachin Tendulkar.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 28, 2011, 23:19 GMT)

no one can replace murali, there is only 1 murali. sanga, plz play samarawera at no 3. it will add stability to middle order as mahela will be playing one slot down. it will make the team look alot more solid

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