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Australian left-handers not a worry for Murali

Colombo: Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralidharan is not concerned by the likely presence of four left-handers in Australia’s line-up for Friday’s Champions Trophy semi-final.

With Muralidharan’s stock ball spinning away from Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Darren Lehmann and Michael Bevan, his chances of claiming any of them bowled or leg-before appears to be reduced.

But Sri Lanka’s leading Test and one-day International wicket-taker appeared far from downcast Tuesday as he looked forward to the prospect of bowling at them.

“I don’t really think that will be a problem for me,” Muralitharan said Tuesday. “I love bowling to left-handers, I don’t mind at all.

“It’s easy in one-day Internationals to bowl at them because the ball is going away from them so it’s not easy for them to get runs. I’ll do well against them, I think,” he added.

The match venue, Premadasa Stadium, has become something of a fortress for Sri Lanka in one-day cricket and they have won 14 of their last 17 matches there, including both outings in the Champions Trophy against Pakistan and Holland.

In those 17 matches Muralidharan has taken 38 wickets with an economy rate of only 3.34.

“I definitely enjoy bowling there,” he said. “But I enjoy bowling anywhere in Sri Lanka. The people support us and the wickets suit us. We know how to play on them better than the other teams.

“At Premadasa it always spins a little bit but in this tournament it’s got a little bit harder and it doesn’t seem to be turning as much.

“But there have been so many matches played there it might just turn a little bit more. If I bowl well, we’ll see,” he added.

“It will be a huge game for us and for Australia but the key point is we have to get runs as well. I’m part of the bowling department but you only get 10 overs in a one-day game so all five bowlers have to bowl well. It’s a team effort, not down to one individual.”

Transformation

Sri Lanka’s form has undergone a transformation since their tour of England earlier in the year when they won only once in six matches in a triangular series against England and India.

Since then they have beaten Bangladesh 3-0, won the Morocco Cup against South Africa and Pakistan and won both matches in the Champions Trophy.

“In England we had a bad patch because all the confidence was low,” the off-spinner said. “Then Aravinda (de Silva) and Pulasthi Gunaratne came in and we are looking much better.”

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