Maharoof likely to replace Fernando April 26, 2007

'Bowling around the wicket has helped,' says Murali



A tactical switch: Going around the wicket has helped Muttiah Muralitharan in becoming more potent. © AFP

Muttiah Muralitharan admits he has introduced changes into his game to keep batsmen under his spell.

"I'm bowling really well around the wicket a lot at the moment and that's a new tactic that can help me," said Muralitharan. "It seems that when you can't see which way the ball is going it's harder. So hopefully that helps me in the future and I'll take more wickets. People are getting ready for the spin, so if I bowl the 'doosra' I might get a top edge."

Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka's captain, hailed the spinner. "He is always trying to take wickets and keeps the pressure on," said Jayawardene. Muralitharan, one of the survivors of the 1996 title-winning team, took his tournament tally to 23, bettered only by Glenn McGrath, and his overall ODI career record to 455.

Meanwhile it is expected that Farveez Maharoof might replace the struggling fast bowler Dilhara Fernando for the final against Australia. Fernando was warned twice for running on the pitch during the 81-run win over New Zealand at Sabina Park on Tuesday while his five overs cost 45 runs. Asantha de Mel, Sri Lanka's chief selector, told the BBC they were not happy with Fernando's form and that fellow seamer Farveez Maharoof is likely to get the nod.

"Most probably it will be Maharoof," said De Mel from the Caribbean. "We were not satisfied with Dilhara's performance." Maharoof was considered unlucky not to make the semi-final after he had taken 4 for 25 in Sri Lanka's last Super Eights game against Ireland.

De Mel also confirmed that Upul Tharanga would continue to open ahead of Marvan Atapattu. If Atapattu doesn't play it will be the second time he has sat out an entire World Cup tournament. The same fate befell him when Sri Lanka won the title in 1996.

Maharoof was named man-of-the-match against Ireland last week where he took four wickets, including three in an over, as well as pulling off a stunning run-out. Ironically, Maharoof, a former captain of his country's Under-19 side, was only playing in that match in Grenada because Fernando had an ankle injury.

"I got injured earlier in the tournament against Bangladesh but I just kept working hard in the nets," said Maharoof. "This is my first World Cup and it is something I have been looking forward to ever since I became professional three years ago. All the bowlers have proved their class at the World Cup," added Maharoof. "We have been talking about getting the basics right and putting the ball in the right areas."

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