We won’t play like the Indians: Muralitharan
Sri Lanka would not emulate India’s ultra-aggressive tactics against Australia during their upcoming two-Test series Down Under, spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan said.
The off-spinner and opening bowler Chaminda Vaas said the tourists would focus on playing smart, positive cricket in the true spirit of the game during the series starting on Thursday.
Muralitharan, who needs nine wickets to become the most successful Test bowler upstaging Shane Warne’s world record of 708 wickets, said in Brisbane that Sri Lanka had no designs on following the Indian example of ‘fighting fire with fire’ during the recent ODI series in India, which the Aussies won 4-2.
“[We want] to play decent cricket and not [approach it] like the Indians,” Muralitharan said at Queensland Cricket’s annual Test match luncheon, Australian newspaper The Age reported on Tuesday.
“We’d like to play our game,” he said, adding: “The challenge is not to think about the end results.”
Recognised as the team which played the game in the best spirit at the ICC’s annual awards in September, Sri Lanka have a fine on-field reputation. Vaas said they would ensure their reputation is retained but would not take a backward step against the hosts.
“We are not Indians. We are not going to play like the Indians did,” he said.
“But when it comes to cricket you have to play aggressive five-day cricket,” he said.
“We are here to play good cricket and play smart cricket, and we received the spirit of the game award so we want to play good cricket and prove we can do something,” he added.
Sri Lanka have registered only one series victory over Australia in 25 years and have never won a Test match in that country. Muralitharan is not thinking about the prospect of breaking Warne’s record and says he is more concerned about proving himself in Australia.
The 35-year-old averages 32.47 for his 67 wickets against Australia in 15 Tests, well down from his career mark of 21.33, but his record in Australia is much worse with eight wickets in three Tests at 63.
He has also been no-balled on two separate visits for ‘bowling with an illegal action’, suffered verbal crowd abuse and been pelted with fruit as well as heard Prime Minister John Howard brand him a chucker.
“I had a bad tour in 1995 and I want to forget that. That’s when it all started,’ he said.
“I want to prove myself this time and show before I retire I can do something,” he said. Meanwhile, Australian opener Matthew Hayden suggested it would be another tough tour for the spinner as none of his teammates harboured any Murali “ghosts.”
“We have played him in his conditions and in our conditions, we’ve seen him across pretty much all parts of the world and I think we’ve handled him very well,” Hayden said.
“Our job is to keep him out of play and I think we’ve definitely got the skills to do that,” the left-hander added.