Murali doubtful for semi-final vs NZ

Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 9:52 [IST]
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Colombo, March 29: It's the big semi-final today as New Zealand gear up to take on Sri Lanka, but the hosts are yet sweating on the fitness of their premier spearhead - offbreak Muttiah Muralitharan. The old war horse is nursing a leg injury and seems unlikely to pull through the ordeal in time.

Murali doubtful for semi-final vs NZ

"It's no use thinking about the final and saving him for other games, this is the crunch game and if he can play him... that'll be great for us, but if that doesn't work out, we've got enough cover to make sure that we are still a solid winning side," said captain Kumar Sangakkara.

This is the second match in a row that Murali has been a doubtful inclusion due to injury and it's naturally a cause for concern and alarm for the management and team.

"He knocked his knee at Mumbai and he's just aggravated a quadricep muscle - a very slight strain - in the game before so it's not the same injury. We'll just have to monitor how he goes and hope he is fit enough to play."

It's no surprise that Sangakkara considers Murali his trump card and key player for Tuesday's match. After all, the veteran has 13 wickets to his credit in this World Cup at an average of 16.23 and has had a especially fantastic last couple of outings. But Sangakkara is confident of his side's chances of winning regardless.

"The guys have done pretty well and tomorrow is not going to be any different. You can't play too much to the crowds, or too much to show off, it's a question of playing good solid cricket, concentrate on doing the best. We have set ourselves small goals to achieve, if we keep our heads and we perform as well as we can, we can turn it into a solid performance."

Sangakkara said the win over England was made to look like a cakewalk because the openers - Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga - came up with a superlative batting performance. "Those kinds of partnerships don't come very often and that kind of overshadowed the contest as such. But England is a side that we were very wary of and we expected nothing less than their strong performance.

But at the same time, Sangakkara says his side has been guarding against complacency and ovcer-confidence and approaching each new match in the tournament as a new challenge. "It's nothing to do with England, we are starting from square one and we want to make sure that we understand that."

Oneindia Cricket

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