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The Electronic Telegraph Warm-up match: Northamptonshire v Sri Lanka
Charles Randall at Northampton - 7 May 1999

Muralitharan gets back in the swing

Northamptonshire 199, match abandoned v Sri Lanka.

Muttiah Muralitharan turned his controversial arm over for Sri Lanka during their World Cup warm-up match at Northampton yesterday for only the second time in three months since damaging his right shoulder during the triangular tournament in Australia.

The off-spinner bemused and trussed up the Northamptonshire county professionals, taking one wicket for 21 off 10 overs, which must have been a relief to Arjuna Ranatunga and his Sri Lanka team, because Muralitharan, now free of no-balling suspicion, seems certain to be a crucial element in Sri Lanka's defence of the World Cup.

A dose of flu kept Chaminda Vaas, the best seam bowler, on the sidelines, though the left-armer had already struck a seam of wickets during the week's practice games, once taking nine wickets for seven runs when a Leicestershire League XI were dismissed for 28 at Illston Abbey.

With 'Murali' fit and firing, attention will be switching to the batsmen in the next game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge tomorrow. The heavy guns of Jayasuriya, De Silva and company did not reach the crease yesterday, rain wiping out play after Northamptonshire had been dismissed for an inadequate 199.

Eric Upashantha claimed the important wicket of Matthew Hayden and bowled intelligently to finish with three wickets. Chandika Hathurusinghe bent his outswingers sharply at times and achieved movement off the pitch, with Mal Loye miscuing a leg-side hit to long-leg. That was the moment that heralded a sharp Northants decline.

Sri Lanka's preparations have gone well, and the party have cocooned themselves successfully from the Sri Lanka Board power struggle. The dispute over the election of the president had shaken Sri Lankan cricket, but Ranatunga said: ``We're not thinking about it. Luckily, we've got a chief executive not involved in all that and he has been running the show, looking after the cricket part.''

Loye, not hitting the ball cleanly that often, showed character in scoring 73 in 100 balls. Russell Warren, after his write-off season last year, made a classy 44 in support. Loye and Warren put on 81 in 20 overs, the sort of tempo that would have started to worry the Sri Lankans, but Warren holed out rashly on the midwicket boundary and the next few batsmen adopted an impetuous approach that undid all the previous good work.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk