There was disappointing news for Sri Lankan fans on Friday evening when promising all rounder Angelo Matthews was ruled out of the final on Saturday due to injury. Off- spinner Suraj Randiv was named as his replacement in the team.
Matthews had played several crucial hands in Sri Lanka’s successes during the tournament and was considered a vital link in an otherwise suspect middle order.
Mathews limped off the field during the semi-final against New Zealand with a quadriceps muscle injury when Sri Lanka were fielding,
and was visibly hampered for movement when he later came out to bat with a runner. Despite his injury Matthews was able to quickly seal victory for his side with just a few strokes when the seniors ahead of him had stuttered and stumbled causing some degree of concern amongst their supporters.
Muttiah Muralitharan was also not in peak physical condition during that game, and the Sri Lankan team management decided to call-up Randiv and veteran seamer Chaminda Vaas as standbys. The pair joined the Sri Lankan team in Mumbai on Thursday evening.
With Mathews not recovering soon enough, Sri Lanka had sought approval from the ICC’s technical committee for swapping him with Randiv, and they were given the go-ahead on Friday, less the 24 hours before the final. Randiv was a regular member of Sri Lanka’s limited-overs’ side last year, but initially missed out on a World Cup spot to Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis, who were picked ahead of him as the spinners to support Muralitharan.
Despite struggling with a number of niggles, including injuries to his knee and hamstring, Muralitharan is expected to play in what will be his last international game.
However both Skipper Kumar Sangakkara and Coach Trevor Bayliss are confident that Muralitharan will play in the World Cup final despite continued worries over his fitness. Muralitharan, who turns 39 next month, skipped practice on Thursday at the Wankhede stadium and has struggled with niggles through the course of the tournament, including a hamstring injury, a side strain, a troublesome knee and a groin issue.
There was speculation that he would be rested for the semi-final against New Zealand in a bid to allow him time to be fully fit for the final, but he played despite not being in the best physical condition.
The final will be Muralitharan’s last international game. “Chances are good that Murali will play,” said Bayliss. “He completed 10 overs in the semi-final, and such is the character of the man that he will play even with discomfort.”
T20 World Cup