Sri Lankan spin magicians Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis loom as major threats for Pakistan in their three-match one-day series that opens in Karachi, Pakistan, tomorrow.
The 36-year-old Muralitharan, already the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 769, will have the extra motivation of overhauling the tally of one-day wickets, currently held by Pakistan’s Wasim Akram with 502.
The wily off-spinner needs just nine wickets to become the highest wicket-taker in both forms of the game, but the unorthodox Mendis holds more challenges for the home team.
The 23-year-old army officer is not a big turner of the ball like his more illustrious partner Muralitharan, but the key to his success is the way he grips the ball with his fingers and flicks it to bowl a variety of deliveries.
Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said his team were geared up to counter the twin-spin threat.
“We have devised our plans how to tackle Mendis. I can’t tell you the details as it’s not for public consumption,” said Intikhab, himself a former leg-spinner of repute. “He is not conventional at all. He has the offie, a leggie, a flipper. Some say play him from the hand, some say off the pitch. But the thing is he’s quick, so whatever we do, we have to decide properly. We will definitely be positive and attack him.”
■AUSTRALIA V S AFRICA
In the second one-day international in Melbourne, Australia, Shaun Marsh made 78 as the Aussies scored 249-9 to beat South Africa (244-6) by five runs and level the series 1-1.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER