Injury concerns over Muttiah Muralitharan and Angelo Mathews have forced the Sri Lankan team to call up Chaminda Vaas and Suraj Randiv as standbys ahead of the World Cup final against India on April 2. Vaas and Randiv will reach Mumbai on Thursday evening, and will be available for an emergency swap into the side if necessary, pending approval from the ICC.
Trevor Bayliss, the team's coach, confirmed the development. "They [Mathews and Muralitharan] picked up a couple of niggles in the last match," Bayliss said. "So to be on the safe side a couple of guys are flying in tonight. We will be giving those two guys [Mathews and Muralitharan] as long as possible to prove their fitness."
Muralitharan has struggled with niggles through the course of the tournament, including a hamstring injury, a side strain, a troublesome knee and a groin issue. There was speculation that he would be rested for the semi-final against New Zealand in a bid to allow him time to be fully fit for the final. Muralitharan, however, played in the semi-final in Colombo, despite not being in the best physical condition. The final, if he plays in it, will be Muralitharan's last international game.
Bayliss was confident about Muralitharan's availability for the game. "I think his chances are good," Bayliss said. "He bowled his 10 overs in the semi-final and came through that okay. He is obviously a bit stiff and sore. He has the character and the will to win the World Cup and I will not be surprised if he plays."
Mathews left the field during the semi-final with a minor quadriceps muscle injury when Sri Lanka were fielding, and was visibly hampered for movement when he later came out to bat with a runner. Mathews has played a crucial role in Sri Lanka's campaign, both as a back-up seamer and in the middle order, and his versatility will be tough to substitute.
Left-arm seamer Vaas, 37, last played an last international game in July 2009, and hasn't featured in an ODI since August 2008. He was contemplating retirement following his omission from the original World Cup squad and was understandably amazed at the call-up. "It was a massive surprise for me. I have just been playing domestic cricket," he told ESPNcricinfo.
Offspinner Randiv was a regular member of Sri Lanka's limited-overs' side last year, but missed out on a World Cup spot to Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis, who were picked ahead of him as the spinners to support Muralitharan.