Muttiah Muralitharan is once again a major doubt for the rest of the World Twenty20 after he pulled up with a recurrence of his groin injury following a surprise return to the team against West Indies. Muralitharan initially hurt himself in the opening match of the tournament against New Zealand, in Guyana, and a Sri Lanka Cricket statement said it would require two to three weeks' rest.
However, Muralitharan declared himself fit before going wicket-less through four overs and needing further treatment. The Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss admitted his participation is now in doubt.
"He's getting treatment, he's pulled up a bit sore. We will just have to wait and see how it comes up tomorrow morning, that will be the real test," Bayliss said. "At the moment it doesn't look great."
It was a gamble by Sri Lanka to recall Muralitharan, but Bayliss said that when a player of his experience tells you he is fit you have to trust their judgement. "You take the word of the player," he said. "Murali thought that he was right and that he was ready to go."
At least Sri Lanka's impressive 57-run victory in their opening Super Eight match will have pleased officials from the Sri Lankan board, who earlier in the day released a statement criticising the team for a "rusty" start to the tournament. Sri Lanka lost the opening match on the penultimate ball against New Zealand before progressing after a rain-affected victory against Zimbabwe.
"Sri Lanka, who emerged as runners up in the 2009 ICC T20 World Cup in England, has not been impressive in the Caribbean this time around," the statement said. "Living with past glories does not help at this level. The bowling must get tighter and the fielding must get disciplined both in catching and at ground level."
The statement added that Mahela Jayawardene, who started the tournament with scores of 81 and 100, needed support from other batsmen so Kumar Sangakkara's 49-ball 68 was a timely display. Jayawardene still led the scoring with an impressive, unbeaten 98.
The most notable player out of form is Tillakaratne Dilshan. He began the World Twenty20 with scores of 3 and 2 which led to him being shunted down the order against West Indies as Sanath Jayasuriya was promoted to open. It was quite a demotion for Dilshan, who was Man of the Tournament last year in England and now has a shot, the Dilscoop, named after him.
Tellingly, the Sri Lanka release questioned the role of the IPL in the loss of form of key players. "Most of the senior players barring Jayawardene look rusty, tired and out of sorts," it said. "Let's hope the toll of the recently concluded IPL is not playing her part with the players."