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World Cup 2015: Muttiah Muralitharan asks Sri Lanka to bat first against South Africa

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Former Sri Lanka cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan has told Sri Lanka to bat first in the quarter final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 against South Africa in Sydney and obsess over the destructive batting power of AB de Villiers.

Muralitharan believes that the team batting second will have to face all the pressure at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and Sri Lanka must look to target South Africa’s poor record when chasing.

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

“The side batting first in one-day internationals at the Sydney Cricket Ground wins 58 per cent 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.”

Muraliatharan said Sri Lanka should bat first and look to score in excess of 300 as ‘runs on the board’ will surely put pressure on the side batting second in a must win game.

“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,” Muralitharan wrote in ICC column. 

Muralitharan also wrote about South Africa’s inability to handle pressure in big games and how they tend to “choke” in the end.

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

Muralitharan also emphasised on targeting AB de Villiers and getting him in as early as possible.

“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.”

“But if AB de Villiers comes in at 80-3, especially in a big chase, then that could be a different story entirely,” he added. 


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