Sri Lanka want World Cup win as a farewell for Murali

Sri Lanka want to win the World Cup as a farewell trophy for legendary spinner and world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan who will retire from international cricket after the tournament.

The spinner, who holds the records for Test (800) and one-day wickets (521), is playing his fourth and final World Cup. He retired from Tests in July last year.”He is a special person, a legend,” teammate Chamara Kapugedera said of the wily 38-year-old on Thursday. 

“Everyone in the team wants to give him (Murali) a good send off. We want to win the cup for Murali. It will be a great tribute,” added Kapugedera, during team practice at Colombo’s renovated R. Premadasa Stadium.

Sri Lanka, the 1996 World Cup winners and 2007 runners-up, are also keen to lift the trophy for the legions of home fans who treat the sport like a religion.

“The Sri Lankan crowd have been very supportive of us, even in bad times. So we are working hard to bring the Cup home again for our supporters too,” the right-handed batsman said.

Knicknamed “Kapu”, the middle-order batsman managed only two runs in Sri Lanka’s first game in their opening Group A match against Canada on Sunday.

A tougher test awaits on Saturday when Sri Lanka meet South Asian rivals Pakistan in Colombo.

Pakistan, the 1992 winners, won Tuesday’s opening game against Kenya comfortably and have never lost a World Cup match against Sri Lanka in six previous meetings.

Kapugedera said Sri Lanka are ready to meet the “fiery Pakistanis” on home soil in front of a supportive home crowd.

“I think our top order is prepared for the challenge,” he said, referring to facing key bowlers Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi.

“Our top-order has faced good fast bowlers before. We have had a very good stint in Australia too (last year). The guys are up for the challenge and we are looking forward to delivering the goods,” Kapugedera said.

“Pakistan are a good team. A good combination of bowlers and batsmen. Yes the pressure is there when we play them. But then again, we are also a good team with a good combination. Saturday’s game should be good,” he said. lbo

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