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December 11, 2005
Muttiah Muralitharan was a satisfied man when he talked to the media after day two of the Delhi Test. Having picked up 5 for 23 in the morning, to finish with 7 for 100 in the innings, the fate of the match increasingly looks like depending on who will win the battle of the champion spinners - Murali or Anil Kumble, who stemmed the Sri Lankan tide with four wickets in the final session. Murali was his usual cheery self, though he couldn't resist a withering answer when asked a question about the doosra which had so bamboozled the Indians in the morning.
On his performance today, and how it was different to yesterday
It was very satisfying to restrict them to 290 on a good batting wicket. It still looks like a batting pitch, but [Anil] Kumble bowled well, and so did I. Tomorrow or day after, my turn will come again. Yesterday too, I had tried all my plans but Tendulkar played well. Today, we got lucky.
On how he approached the task in the morning
It was all about putting pressure on the batsmen, and thinking of their weak and strong point. Once we got through Sachin, it was always going to be difficult for the new batsmen to come in and play the first few overs.
On how he viewed the match situation
I think it's vital for us to get as close to their score as we can, or even take a lead. We'll see what will happen then. I think whichever team bats better in the final innings will win this match.
On Malinga Bandara
He's a good bowler. He's played well for the A team and also for Gloucestershire, and he deserves his chance. But it wasn't only Bandara. Dilhara [Fernando] and [Chaminda] Vaas also bowled well yesterday and kept it very tight.
On what had changed between the one-day series and now
I think in one-day cricket, if you lose confidence, you just keep losing it. In Tests, the pressure is different. ODIs are all about entertainment and if something goes wrong, then everything usually does. But in Tests, you can come back any time.
On Chaminda Vaas approaching 300 Test wickets
He's a great bowler who has done a lot for Sri Lankan cricket. He has 300 wickets in one-dayers and I think he will finish with much more than 300 in Tests.
On what sort of first innings score was likely after Marvan Atapattu's dismissal
We've still got batsmen left. Vaas is there, and Malinga can bat. If we can add another 60 or 70 runs, the lead won't matter much.
On whether it was a coincidence that the experienced bowlers had taken the wickets
I think it's about putting the pressure on. If you keep asking questions of the batsmen, you can perform well.
On whether he was bowling his doosra to such an extent that it had become predictable
If it's so predictable (almost sneers), they should have scored 500.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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