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Sangakkara desperate for Murali to play in final

Sangakkara said the 38-year-old Muttiah Muralitharan’s various aches and pains hadn’t affected his mood: “It’s hard to shut Murali up.” –Photo by Reuters

MUMBAI: Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara doesn’t know for sure that Muttiah Muralitharan will be fit enough to play in Saturday’s World Cup final, but he’s banking on fate to step in.

The world’s most prolific wicket-taker has sustained hamstring, knee, groin and side injuries in Sri Lanka’s run to the final, and isn’t a certainty to take his place in the team for what would be his 350th and last ODI for Sri Lanka.

‘‘It’s great to have him in the side, it’s great to hopefully have him tomorrow, and to have him play this World Cup final with us because there’s no other way we can have it,’’ Sangakkara said Friday.

‘‘Whatever happens tomorrow we want to play for him and play for each other and do the best that we can.’’

Muralitharan did not train on Thursday but was able to bowl in the nets on Friday, the day before Sri Lanka meets India at the Wankhede Stadium.

Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss had earlier said the ‘‘chances are good’’ that Muralitharan would play after he managed to bowl all of his 10 overs in the semifinal win over New Zealand despite his injury worries.

Sangakkara said the 38-year-old Muralitharan’s various aches and pains hadn’t affected his mood.

‘‘It’s hard to shut Murali up, whatever his mood is,’’ the captain said. ‘‘He’s pretty upbeat. He’s always talking, laughing and annoying most of the other players in the dressing room. Today’s been no different.’’

On Thursday, Muralitharan was spotted at the ground jokingly trying to persuade passing officials into giving him passes for Saturday’s sellout final at the 33,000-capacity stadium.

Sri Lanka also has an injury worry over all-rounder Angelo Mathews, who strained a quadriceps muscle in the semifinal. Sangakkara said a decision will be made on both players by the end of the day.

Chaminda Vaas and Suraj Randiv have joined the squad on standby in case either player should be ruled out.

‘‘Angelo is one of our very important players,’’ Sangakkara said. ‘‘We’ll make an assessment today but if he’s not there he’s not there. The player who replaces him will consider it a big opportunity to do well for his country on this magnificent occasion.’’


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