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Muttiah Muralitharan: "Rashid will come good in Tests as well"

Ritam Basu
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''The way Rashid bowled in this year's IPL reaffirmed his class'': Muralitharan
''The way Rashid bowled in this year's IPL defined his class'': Muralitharan. [Image: The Hindu]

A day after Sunrisers Hyderabad lost to Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the final of the eleventh edition of the Indian Premier League at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on Sunday, I spoke exclusively to Sri Lankan legend and current SRH bowling coach, Muttiah Muralitharan.

We discussed the nature of the pitch for the final the night before, Afghan teen sensation Rashid Khan’s meteoric rise as a cricketer, and the waning popularity of finger-spinners in limited-overs cricket in this short conversation.

Here are the excerpts:


Q: Was the Wankhede track used for the final of IPL 2018 initially a bit on the slower side?

Murali: Whenever a day-night match is played at the Wankhede, the teams batting second always have an advantage. Yes, the pitch was a bit sluggish to start with in the first five or six overs.

Q: Heading into the mid-innings break, did you think 178 was a par score on that surface, given the way it played out in the first innings?

Murali: The toss was a crucial factor in the final. We would have liked to bat second on that wicket, given the history of the Wankhede. Maybe two or three wickets in the first six overs of the CSK innings could have turned the tide in our favour, but unfortunately, we didn’t manage to do that, and the (CSK) batsmen batted intelligently to reach the target.

Q: Rashid Khan was the standout bowler for SRH during the recently-concluded IPL season. A few days ago, your friend and former Australian leg-spinner, Shane Warne rated Rashid as the best limited-overs spinner in world cricket at present. Do you agree with his opinion?

Murali: Yeah, definitely. The way he bowled in this year's IPL defined his class.

Q: What according to you is Rashid’s biggest forte as a spinner?

Murali: His quickish action and his competency to maintain a stump-to-stump line consistently.

Q: Do you think he can translate his limited-overs success into Test cricket as well?

Murali: I am sure (about it). Unlike in T20s, batsmen won’t come after you in Test cricket, so you’ll have to be patient and mentally prepared for bowling long spells, especially in the subcontinent. It will be interesting to see how he approaches the new challenge.

Q: One changing trend discernible in global cricket nowadays is that teams are tilting more towards wrist-spinners, resulting in the finger-spinners gradually falling out of favour. How do you view this new trend?

Murali: The fact that wrist-spinners can turn the ball both ways makes it difficult for batsmen to read the spin off the pitch. Hence, they are increasingly being looked upon as potent match-winners in the shorter formats.

The finger spinners, I am sure, will find their way back into the game. Remember, a decade ago it was the finger-spinners who were more in vogue compared to wrist-spinners. But things have changed now. Finger-spinners, however, are still very much part of the game. 

Q: IPL 2018 unearthed quite a few talented spinners, not just from India but from across the cricketing world. What is your assessment of young talents like Mujeeb ur Rahman and Sandeep Lamichhane?

Murali: They have looked impressive from what I have seen of them so far, but they need to play more international matches to hone their skills.

Q: The Galle International Stadium, which used to be your favourite hunting ground during your playing days, was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons when match-fixing allegations were levelled against its curator. What is your take on the issue?

Murali: No comments. Next question please...

Q: What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Murali: To spend more time with my family.


Do you think Rashid Khan is the best leg spinner in the world right now? If not him then who? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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Ritam Basu
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