Don't fear Murali, Misbah tells Pakistan

We have played Muralitharan well in the past, says Misbahul Haq.


Afp February 24, 2011

COLOMBO: In-form batsman Misbahul Haq told Pakistan not to fear Sri Lanka's world record wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan when the two sides clash in the World Cup on Saturday.

"We should keep it simple, play tough cricket and not be overawed by their home advantage or their bowlers. We have played Muralitharan well in the past," said Misbah, of the off-spinner who has 521 wickets in 342 one-dayers.

Both Sri Lanka - Cup co-hosts with India and Bangladesh - and Pakistan got off to flying starts by winning their opening matches at Hambantota by over 200-run margins and look set for a Colombo thriller, already a sell-out.

"It's a vital match for both sides," said Misbah, who singled out Lasith Malinga as well as Muralitharan as a key bowler for Sri Lanka.

"No doubt, both are world class bowlers, they have been doing it for so long. But we've played them quite a lot, and players understand their strengths and the plan is to keep it simple," said Misbah.

"In our part of the world we play spinners well. Younus Khan plays spinners well and some of younger batsmen too. There are quite a few guys in Pakistan who bowl with his (Murali's) action so I am sure we can handle him," said Misbah.

"Sri Lanka have been very consistent, especially in the last few years, playing good cricket and in home conditions they are a very tough side. So we need good planning and a fighting spirit to beat them," said Misbah.

The 36-year-old Misbah, who contemplated retirement in June last year after being overlooked for Pakistan's tour of England, regained his spot and is crucial to the team's hopes at the World Cup.

Misbah entered the World Cup on the back of an excellent one-day series against New Zealand and has hit six consecutive half-centuries since taking over as Test captain in October last year.

He made his belated World Cup debut with a gritty 69-ball 65 -- one of four half-centuries -- in Pakistan's 317-7 against Kenya in their opening match which they won by a convincing 205-run margin.

And Misbah wants to keep improving.

"I have always said it's important for any player that when you get some self-belief back and some confidence returns, these are the main things for someone to succeed," said Misbah.

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