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Sri Lanka need to focus on getting AB de Villiers in as quickly as possible: Muttiah Muralitharan

Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan has asked Sri Lanka to bat first if they win the toss against South Africa

Muttiah Muralitharan advises Lankan players ahead of their quarter-final clash

Sri Lankan legend Muttiah Muralitharan has asked Sri Lanka to bat first if they win the toss against South Africa in the first quarter-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. Muralitharan also asked not to obsess over the batting prowess of AB de Villiers and believes that the pressure will be on the team batting second at the Sydney Cricket Ground. 

“I have two messages, win the toss and do not get too hung up thinking about AB de Villiers,” the off-spin great wrote in latest ICC column. 

“The side batting first in one-day internationals at the Sydney Cricket Ground wins 58 percent of the time according to the statistics but, in the pressure of a knock-out match as this one is, I reckon the advantage of runs on the board counts for even more than that figure suggests.” he said.

South Africa doesn’t perform well while chasing says Muralitharan

South Africa won their four group matches after batting first and posting mammoth scores, but failed to win their matches while chasing against India and Pakistan. 

“A total in excess of 300 batting first means the side needing to get those runs has to go at a run a ball from the outset and, if wickets go down and the run-rate increases, and in the knowledge of it being a win or bust encounter, batsmen’s brains can get scrambled very easily,” added the spin wizard. 

“South Africa have a reputation for buckling at the business end of major tournaments. Sri Lanka has no such hang-up having won the World Twenty20 last year and reaching the World Cup final in each of the past two editions,” he said.

Lankans need to get de Villiers wicket as quickly as possible says Muralitharan

Muralitharan also advised the Lankans not to get distracted by de Villiers who has scored 417 runs and has hit the most number of sixes (20) in the World Cup history. 

“Sri Lanka need to focus on getting de Villiers in as quickly as possible. If he comes in with a platform laid, wickets in hand and the field spread then that is a licence for mayhem, especially against a Sri Lanka attack that has struggled to contain opponents throughout this World Cup,” he said.

“But if de Villiers comes in at 80-3, especially in a big chase, then that could be a different story entirely.“ He added: “If I was in charge of the Sri Lanka team meeting then that would be a major theme of mine: forget how much they can hurt us with the bat; we can hurt them just as much, or even more.

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