ICC World Cup 2015: Don’t underestimate Sri Lanka, says Muttiah Muralitharan
Muttiah Muralitharan has been a part of three World Cup finals in five attempts. But hasn’t tasted success since the Arjuna Ranatunga led Sri Lankan team won it for the first time in 1996. Ricky Ponting’s Australia took it far away from them in the 2007 World Cup final while MS Dhoni’s India chased their way to success in 2011. Murali doesn’t count Sri Lanka as top favourites to conquer this World Cup in Australia and New Zealand but given their World Cup track record gives out a warning, ‘Don’t underestimate Sri Lanka’. This and a lot more in an exclusive conversation with Headlines Today.
Question. How do you read the World Cup so far? No surprises.
Muttiah Muralitharan: Yes, there has been no surprise so far in this World Cup. West Indies losing to Ireland can be counted as a surprise but nothing apart from that. All the expected teams are winning. Pakistan is a lesser team than India so no surprise they lost that game.
Q. How big a factor is the ‘home advantage’ in this World Cup?
Muralitharan: Home advantage is a big factor. Australia and New Zealand are fancied because they are playing at home. Even South Africa is used to similar conditions. We had seen in the last World Cup that the sub continent teams did well. Conditions matter a lot so much so that it sometimes becomes difficult for other teams to scale them.
Q. India has got off to a perfect start to their campaign…
Muralitharan: India needed this win badly. This win would have given them some confidence. For last two and half months they haven’t won anything. But World Cup is a different competition. And once a team comes to quarters, you never know how it goes.
Q. What sort of role do you see spin playing in this World Cup?
Muralitharan: If there is a great spinner, he will do well. But in these conditions fast bowlers will always be more effective.
Q. Sri Lanka has started with a loss. Does that worry you?
Muralitharan: Sri Lanka’s first loss is not a big deal. They lost to New Zealand who is one of the favourites. It’s important now to win other games and get to quarters. Sri Lanka is always dangerous. Their performance in World Cup has been great for last 20 years. So don’t underestimate Sri Lanka.