Muttiah Muralitharan had all praise for interim skipper, Virat Kohli and said that he is indeed a valuable asset for the future of Indian cricket and one bad series should not be enough to draw conclusion or criticism © Getty Images
Muttiah Muralitharan had all praise for interim skipper, Virat Kohli and said that he is indeed a valuable asset for the future of Indian cricket and one bad series should not be enough to draw conclusion or criticism © Getty Images

Nov 1, 2014

As two south-Asian giants, India and Sri Lanka clash in a five-match ODI series starting on Sunday, Novemeber 2 at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack, the Lankan spin legend, Muttiah Muralitharan spoke out as the Lankan team arrived in Cuttack. He said that the absence of Lasith Malinga and Rangana Herath from the team would be disappointing for the other members in the squad. However, the youngsters could utilise this opportunity to cement their position in the squad and be considered for selection by the selectors for the World Cup which is just round the corner early next year at Australia and New Zealand.

However, speaking on the Indian squad, the legendary spinner had all praise for interim skipper, Virat Kohli and said that he is indeed a valuable asset for the future of Indian cricket and one bad series should not be enough to draw conclusion or criticism. “Kohli is a great player, who has performed consistently. Everyone can have a bad patch. It would be silly to target him for one bad series (in England). Rather, everyone must support him. He’s one of the characters of the game. He’s the future of Indian cricket,” he said in an interview to The Indian Express.

“Kohli is very positive and leads in an aggressive manner. This opportunity will be a part of his learning process,” he added.

He also spoke on the hastily organised series between the two countries and their under-preparedness although he refrained himself from commenting much on the issue as according to him, he is not a part of the set-up of the Lankan cricket. “I’m not a part of the Sri Lankan cricket set-up. So it would be unfair for me to comment on the team’s preparation. What I believe is that professional cricketers should always be ready to adjust. They can find comfort in familiar conditions. Also, these two teams face each other  frequently and know each other well. India and Sri Lanka always play interesting cricket and this time also it should be no different,” he said.

On being asked that whether the absence of MS Dhoni as the regular skipper from the squad would affect the mentality, mind-set and confidence level of the Indian squad, he said, “Dhoni has always been a huge factor in this format of the game. But even without him, India have some terrific players. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and others. They can pose a real threat.”

However, Murali was not surprised on being asked about the pull-out by the West Indies during their recent tour of India due to which Sri Lanka are here. He said that it had been a regular case with the West Indies and it was the last-minute intervention from the board that saved other possible pull-outs. Although in this case, it was really unfortunate that the board could not help its players and the incident had to happen against India.

“It would be very unfortunate if that happens. World cricket needs West Indies. They need support, especially from the ICC. Bilateral series are mutual agreements between two boards. But I would like to see ICC’s intervention in exceptional cases,” said Murali on being asked if West Indies cricket would split up.

However, Murali had all praise for the ICC on it’s crackdown over chucking and suspending bowlers with illegal action.

Complete coverage of Sri Lanka tour of India 2014