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Recovering Murali will tame the Lions

For a better part of Sri Lanka's practice session ahead of Saturday's quarterfinal tie against England, Muttiah Muralitharan kept chatting with the groundstaff. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 24, 2011 03:00 IST
Amol Karhadkar

For a better part of Sri Lanka's practice session ahead of Saturday's quarterfinal tie against England, Muttiah Muralitharan kept chatting with the groundstaff.

Though the champion spinner preferred to rest his hamstring he had damaged during the tie against New Zealand in Mumbai last week, he just couldn't keep himself out of 'action'.

Was he instructing the groundsmen to prepare a wicket, which would suit the hosts? Or, was he simply trying to gather information on the playing surface? Whatever might have been the discussion, Murali sure gave enough hints that he would not be watching the game from the sidelines come Saturday.

"He didn't bowl at the nets, but he did bowl for some 20-odd minutes at the practice facility," coach Trevor Bayliss said on Wednesday. "We are confident he will play. He is one player who has played through niggles in the past and I am sure he will be fine come Saturday."

While the hosts looked confident about their main spinner's availability, they were not too sure what to expect from Andrew Strauss' English side. Despite losing to Ireland and Bangladesh, England have made it to the last eight, courtesy their tie against India and scintillating victory against South Africa.

With the experience of close finishes, England might have an edge in the knockout match. "The more you are in a situation like that, the more easy it is to get used to it the next time. We are under no illusion," said Bayliss.