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Muralitharan set to play against Australia
January 08, 2003 16:57 IST
Sri Lanka, who suffered a humiliating 10-wicket loss to Australia A on Tuesday, are set to recall off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for Thursday's game against Australia.
Muralitharan missed Sri Lanka's first three matches, all losses, in the triangular limited-overs series after undergoing a hernia operation in November.
"We expect him (Muralitharan) to play," Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore told reporters in Adelaide.
Rated by Wisden last month as the best bowler in Test cricket history, Muralitharan's presence will give a boost to the side, especially as the 30-year-old is the fourth-leading wicket-taker in one-day internationals with 297 victims.
Captain Sanath Jayasuriya's side has lost twice to England and once to Australia in the 2002-03 triangular series, which began with five matches last month and resumes on Thursday.
"We would expect a couple of changes at least based on that performance (against Australia A)," added Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 World Cup final.
Australia A bundled the touring side out for 65 in just 25 overs in their one-day match at Adelaide Oval.
The Sri Lankans are bottom of the triangular series standings with just one point from three matches, having been unable to handle Australia's bouncy pitches. They need a form reversal before the World Cup starts in South Africa next month.
Hashan Tillakaratne was the only Sri Lanka batsman to reach double figures on Tuesday, scoring 11 in 57 balls.
Australia A conceded 26 extras, including 17 wides, which helped push Sri Lanka's score above their record lowest international one-day total of 55 made against West Indies in Sharjah in 1986-87.
The Australian Cricket Board then staged an exhibition match of 25 overs per side in which Australia A hit 171. In reply, Sri Lanka made 146 for eight after Kumar Sangakkara smashed 72 from 56 balls.
The Sri Lankans embarrassed Australia with an easy seven-wicket win in Colombo four months ago in the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy but that was on a low, turning wicket, rare in Australia.
Jayasuriya said on Tuesday: "It was very disappointing, especially the batting. Nobody seemed to occupy the crease today, it was a big problem."