Muralitharan, Mathews battling to be fit for final (Lead)

March 31st, 2011 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, March 31 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, who has defied a series of injuries to play through the 2011 World Cup, and Angelo Mathews are battling to be fit for the final against India Saturday. The off-spinner,however, has “good chances” of playing the match.

As covers, Sri Lanka have roped in seasoned seamer Chaminda Vaas and all-rounder Suraj Randiv for Muralitharan and Mathews.

Muralitharan, the world’s highest wicket-taker in Tests and ODIs, played his last match at home in the semifinal against New Zealand. He is keen to appear in the final, which will be his last ODI.

“I think his chances are good. He bowled his 10 overs in the semifinal and came through that okay. He is obviously a bit stiff and sore. He has the character and the will to win the World Cup and I will not be surprised if he plays,” Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss told newspersons here Wednesday.

The 38-year-old battled a knee injury against New Zealand in Sri Lanka’s last league match here to take four wickets. He then aggravated a quad muscle in the quarterfinal against England in Colombo, but turned out for the semifinal.

Muralitharan is Sri Lanka’ top wicket-taker in the current tournament with 15 wickets.

Mathews, who scored an unbeaten 14 in the semifinal against New Zealand in a pressure situation, sustained a right side strain while fielding during the match Tuesday.

“We will give them full time to recover,” Bayliss said.

Vaas and Randiv are expected to arrive here later Thursday.

The experienced Vaas was part of the 1996 winning team along with Muralitharan. The 37-year-old Vaas has led the Sri Lankan attack for more than a decade. He retired from Tests in 2009 with 355 wickets. He has 400 ODI wickets in 322 matches.

Vaas last played an ODI when India toured Sri Lanka in August 2008.

Randiv, who made his ODI debut in 2009, has 22 wickets from 21 matches.

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