Muralitharan eyeing revenge World Cup victory over Australia

Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan delivers the ball during a training session at the R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo February 2011. Muralitharan is desperate for a revenge World Cup victory over Australia, four years after his country’s final heartache.

Colombo: Mar 3, 2011

Sri Lanka’s legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is desperate for a revenge World Cup victory over Australia on Saturday, four years after his country’s final heartache. Sri Lanka lost the controversial 2007 title match in Barbados, when Australia celebrated a third successive triumph, in a match which ended in darkness and ruined the occasion as spectacle.

“They (Australia) have won in all conditions. They have won the last three World Cups. They are the team everybody wants to beat. Everyone in the team is upbeat. We are anxious to beat them,” Muralitharan said.

Sri Lanka have won just 23 of their 72 one-day encounters with Australia, but clinched the series in Australia in November for a morale-booster ahead of Saturday’s Group A clash at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium.

Muralitharan, who is playing in his fourth and final World Cup, said that Australian batsmen are capable of dealing with spin and fast bowlers on sub-continent tracks. He expects the newly-laid Premadasa wicket to be batting-friendly, a little slow with some help to spinners.

But he does not expect Saturday’s high-pressure game to be a high scoring one like the ones in neighbouring India, where a series of totals have exceeded 350.

“If you are really batting well, you can score more than 300. But in Indian conditions, smaller grounds, fast outfields, 350 is achievable. In Sri Lankan conditions, 280 or 290 is a good score.”

Muralitharan, who has a world record 800 wickets in Tests and 523 wickets in one-day internationals, will bow out of international cricket after the World Cup, following his retirement from Tests in July last year.

Sri Lanka, 1996 winners and 2007 finalists, have said they would like to win the World Cup for Muralitharan.