Bangladesh face Murali threat

Dhaka, December 25:

Ace Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will be keen to maintain his impressive performance against Bangladesh in a two-Test series starting here on Friday.

The off-spinner troubled Bangladesh in previous Tests, grabbing 76 wickets in nine games, including three hauls of 10 or more wickets in a match. He is the world’s leading wicket-taker with 756 in 123 Tests. Muralitharan’s best performance against Bangladesh came in 2007 when he finished with 12-82 in the third and final Test in Kandy to complete his team’s 3-0 series victory.

Spin was the key to Sri Lanka’s 2-1 Test series win over India at home in August, with unorthodox slow bowler Ajantha Mendis taking 26 wickets and Muralitharan 21. Although Mendis has been ruled out of the match due to an ankle injury, Sri Lanka have another spinner in Rangana Herath who is capable of keeping pressure on Bangladesh.

Bangladesh skipper Mohammad Ashraful said his team could not afford to focus on Muralitharan alone. “Sri Lanka’s bowling is formidable. They are good in both departments (pace and spin). He (Muralitharan) has taken more than 70 wickets against us and their pacemen also have taken plenty.”

Sri Lanka, who won all of their 10 Tests against Bangladesh, face a problem at the top of their batting order as Michael Vandort and Malinda Warnapura both failed in the warm-up game.

Bangladesh hope to end the year with a better performance, having lost seven and drawn one of their eight Tests in 2008. Their best performance came in the opening Test in Chittagong in October when they managed to gain the lead over New Zealand, but failed to capitalise on it and eventually lost the match by three wickets.