September 14, 2012 01:14 pm
Sri Lanka’s nine wicket victory against West Indies in the warm-up game has set the tone for the hosts’ for their 2012 ICC World Twenty20 campaign, but well begun is often half-done cautioned Muttiah Muralitharan. The former Lankan spinner, who quit international cricket after the ICC 2011 World Cup, felt the hosts have shown good rhythm but they still need to push themselves as the tournament progresses.
“Nothing can be better than starting a World Cup with a victory under your belt. I think we played good cricket today and Mahela (Jayawardene) has ably led from the front. We have to keep this momentum going,” Murali told TOI on Thursday.
Mahela scored a fluent unbeaten 57 and added 103 runs with Tillakaratne Dilshan (50 not out) for the second-wicket partnership. The two are vital cogs in the Lankan setup and Murali assured this Sri Lankan side will be virtually invincible if both batsmen can carry their form.
“Mahela’s leadership is inspirational and Dilshan is a dangerous batsman. It’s good that both of them have scored the runs as it would boost their confidence in the coming games. If both of them bat like this it will be tough for other teams,” Murali said.
It was a tidy bowling performance from the hosts to restrict a very talented T20 side like the West Indies to 132-6. Drawn into the debate whether the wickets would favour pace or spin, Murali said: “Any bowler who doesn’t forget his line and length will do well. There might be some extra spin in Colombo but, otherwise, the purchase is the same everywhere.”
Murali backed Ajantha Mendis to spark a surprise. The mystery spinner made a comeback after a nine month injury layoff and returned figures of 3-0-15-0 on Thursday. “( Ajantha) Mendis is a very good bowler. I am hoping him to do well in this World T20,” he said.
Murali, however, was sceptical of Darren Sammy’s side. “West Indies are a good team but they haven’t performed collectively in any tournament for a long time. They lost by nine wickets today... They have plenty of good players but they have to perform,” he pointed out.
Sri Lanka lost to Pakistan in the 2009 final and was knocked out in the 2010 semis. Murali wants the hosts to grab the opportunity of playing at home and make this edition their own. “We are the home team and we are playing in home conditions. We shouldn’t lose this opportunity.”
(The Times of India)