India assures full support to Muralitharan

Published: Thursday, May 20, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo:India on Thursday assured its support to Sri Lanka's beleaguered spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan, whose 'doosra' delivery has been banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC), saying the bowler was a "pride and pleasure" for the Indians as well.

After talks with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse in Colombo on Thursday , India's top envoy Nirupam Sen said that New Delhi was keen to back the Sri Lankan player.

"Muralitharan is a pride not only to Sri Lankans. He is a pride and pleasure to Indians too. I will ask the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to help him in any way possible," he told reporters.

The remarks came after he held closed-door talks with the Sri Lankan Prime Minister seeking support for suing the ICC over its decision to ban Muralitharan's 'doosra.' Rajapakse received Sen at his officia Temple Trees residence for the talks, officials said.

The PM had said on Wenesday that he was seeking support from the other three Test playing nations in South Asia -- Bangladesh, India and Pakistan -- over Murali's issue.

Rajapakse has also made elaborate arrangements to welcome Muralitharan who returned to a hero's welcome on Thursday after Sri Lanka's tour of Zimbabwe during which he set the world record of Test wickets.

The Sri Lankan Prime Minister has mounted a campaign to defend the star off-spinner after Australian Prime Minister John Howard described him as a "chucker."

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