Being successful and Asian is Murali's curse: Shastri

Published: Wednesday, August 11, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:Former cricketer and television commentator Ravi Shastri on Wednesday said Sri Lankan spin ace Muttiah Muralitharan is being singled out and victimised just because he is an Asian and a successful bowler.

Shastri argued that while one cannot say that Muralitharan is absolutely above board, action has not been taken against "quite a few" (other) bowlers, whom he did not name, who are no different from him.

"I don't find anything wrong with his bowling action. I have no problems with his off-break. He is an Asian man; and that has ruffled quite a few feathers," he said.

According to Shastri, no body would have raised a finger against the spinner if he had taken insignificant number of wickets in his career -- say for example 25 scalps.

Muralitharan is being targeted because he is a very successful bowler.

He lashed out at International Cricket Council (ICC) for the rule that allowed 10 degrees in regard to flexing elbow while bowling to fast bowlers and only five degrees in respect of spinners and attacked the 'different yardstick'.

Shastri, who was speaking on the occasion of LG showcasing the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 as the official global partner, said he believed the Indian One-day team that played between 1983 and 1986 being the best Indian team ever, as it was consistent having won the World Cup, Asia Cup and World Championship during the period.

The present team of Sourav Ganguly is "close to being one of the best", he opined, adding, it needs to be consistent, especially in big games.

Shastri said vice-captain Rahul Dravid should be relieved of his responsibility of keeping wickets in One-dayers which would take pressure off him enabling him to concentrate and focus more on his batting.

If six batsmen cannot win games, what can a seventh do, he asked.

On ICC's opposition to former captain Mohammed Azharuddin taking up the role of commentator, Shastri said it was for ICC to take a view after speaking to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). "CBI knows lot more," he commented, obviously referring to the agency investigating the match-fixing allegations against Azhar.

"I have no problems working with him (Azhar)," he said. "He (Azhar) was a fine cricketer."

Asked if he would be interested if offered the job of India coach, Shastri said he was asked (to take up the job) a couple of times but added that since he had signed contracts he would not get time for this assignment.

He also said, "I want to have my way (in coaching). I will not fit in at the moment". But he believes he can impart knowledge to youngsters that could be beneficial.

Shastri said India should adopt a "ruthless" approach in cases of injured cricketers. Any injured cricketer, irrespective of his stature, should be made to sit out and the team should back young talent.

On the recent Asia Cup in which India faltered in the finals against Sri Lanka, he said it was a case of game-play going wrong, pointing out that Ganguly's team should have "attacked more" in the first 15-20 overs.

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