Island Cricket

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Murali, the team-man, to the fore | IPL

The Sunday Island (LK): In a gesture that captured the essence of Muttiah Muralitharan’s spirit, the legendary spinner sprinted to the ground with bottles of mineral water for his teammates.

Test cricket’s leading wicket-taker he might be, but Muralitharan did not mind being the 12th man, at least for the moment. Muralitharan, the team-man, came to the fore on a hot, sweltering Monday at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

The occasion was the practice game for the Chennai Super Kings, the squad being split into two groups. And Muralitharan was the cynosure.

Soon, the Sri Lankan off-spin wizard began his stretching routine. Not much later, he was into the ground again, bringing with him more sunshine and extraordinary skills.

"He adds so much to the side. He is probably the best spinner in the world," said Australian batsman Michael Hussey.

Muralitharan said, "It is a good side. I feel at home here. Let’s wait for the matches to begin."

Former India captain and brand ambassador of the Chennai Super Kings, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, said, "Despite his achievements, Muralitharan is such a humble person. He is simple and very approachable."

Good cricketing brain

Srikkanth was seen having a lengthy conversation with Muralitharan in the pavilion. "We were discussing the various combinations in the IPL, their strengths and weaknesses. He has an excellent cricketing brain. His inputs off the field, in terms of strategy, will be very valuable too. I am happy that the son-in-law of Chennai is playing for Chennai," he said.

The practice match produced some entertaining cricket. The big and strong Jacob Oram sent the ball soaring over the stands. Parthiv Patel played some cracking strokes at the top of the order. Young paceman Manpreet Singh Goni generated some speed and extracted bounce. Of course, there was Muralitharan.

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