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Injured Murali again out of Pakistan Test

Sri Lanka will once again be without spin king Muttiah Muralitharan as they attempt a series-clinching win when the second Test against Pakistan starts on Sunday.

cricket Updated: Jul 10, 2009 12:03 IST

Sri Lanka will once again be without spin king Muttiah Muralitharan as they attempt a series-clinching win when the second Test against Pakistan starts on Sunday.

The world's leading Test and one-day bowler missed the first Test in Galle, which Sri Lanka won by 50 runs, after hurting the patella tendon in his right knee during training last week.

Team manager Brendon Kuruppu said Muralitharan, 37, had improved considerably but will sit out the second Test on his home ground at the P. Sara Oval as a precautionary measure.

"He won't be playing the Test, but that's more as a precaution than anything else," Kuruppu told reporters. "We are confident Murali will play the third Test."

The off-spinner, who has taken a record 770 Test and 505 one-day wickets, was not missed as Sri Lanka pulled off a dramatic win in the Galle Test to take the lead in the three-match series.

Pakistan, chasing a modest target of 168 runs, collapsed from a comfortable 71-2 to 117 all out, losing their last eight wickets for 46 runs on the fourth morning.

Sri Lanka's hero was left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, who was flown in from England where he was playing league cricket two days before the Test to replace Muralitharan.

Herath, 31, who had 36 wickets in 14 previous Tests, grabbed a career-best 4-15 from 11.3 overs in the second innings to wreck Pakistan and win the man of the match award.

Pakistan, hoping to level the series, will still be delighted at Muralitharan's absence from the P. Sara Oval, the home of his long-time club, Tamil Union.

The wily bowler has taken 52 wickets in nine Tests at the ground where Sri Lanka have won their last four Tests on a firm wicket regarded as the most sporting in the island nation.

The tourists last played at the ground in 2002, losing by 41 runs to Australia during a series that was shifted to neutral venues due to security concerns in Pakistan.

Pakistan's initial worries about their inexperienced bowling attack -- three of the four specialist bowlers made their debut at Galle - proved unfounded as Sri Lanka managed totals of 292 and 217.

Left-arm pace bowler Mohammad Aamer was the star with three wickets in each innings, while fellow-rookies Abdur Rauf and Saeed Ajmal shared eight scalps between them.

But the batting let the tourists down with none of the top three, Salman Butt, Khurram Manzoor and skipper Younus Khan, getting among the runs.

Veteran Mohammad Yousuf hit a century in the first innings on his return to Test cricket after an 18-month absence, but his dismissal for 12 on the fourth morning turned the tables on Pakistan.

"The younger guys in the team could not take the pressure of a Test match," said Younus. "When I am under pressure, I go back to the basics. They should do the same."

The seasoned duo of leg-spinner Danish Kaneria and all-rounder Abdur Razzaq, who were surprisingly left out of the Galle Test, will fancy their chances of playing the second match.

Younus indicated the final composition will not be decided until Sunday morning after a good look at the wicket and weather conditions. Thundershowers are forecast during the match.