Muttiah Muralitharan believes that Sri Lankan cricket is struggling to cope with the void left by the retirement of its senior players as the youngsters have not stepped up yet. He also saw India winning the first Test easily given their strong position and the nature of the wicket at the Galle.
Legendary spinner Muralitharan represented Sri Lanka in 133 Tests and 350 ODIs taking 800 and 534 wickets. He was the part of the World Cup-winning side in 1996 where he played a vital role for his country’s greatest moment in the cricket history. Now, he is very disappointed with the performance of the current Sri Lankan squad.
The island nation's cricketing scene is in shambles after their first-ever loss to Zimbabwe in the 50-over format, that too at home. In the aftermath, Angelo Mathews had stepped down from the captaincy in all formats, while the management has questioned their intent and gone as far as looking into the World Cup final 2011 where they lost to India. All this indicates a deep distrust between the Board and the players and a need to find scapegoats instead of constructive action. Muralitharan put it down to the gap between the mass retirement of their senior players and the inability of the young guns to step up in time.
"We lost in the Zimbabwe series for the first time ever in Sri Lanka that means we're not performing well," Murali said as reported by PTI.
"We have the talent but at the moment a lot of senior players are retired. The younger players are not performing well. Too many are playing and every time the team is changed," he opined.
In the ongoing series yesterday, India strengthened their position in the first Test in Galle as the visitors posted 600 runs in the first innings. In response, Sri Lanka managed only 154/5 at the end of the second day’s play.
"India will have a better opportunity than Sri Lanka this time. The wicket there is good for batting in the first two days then it starts to spin... So always who bats first have a better chance of winning," Murali said.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who has played 49 Tests and taken 275 wickets, is playing his 50th Test match at the Galle, and during India’s first innings he contributed with the bat and scored 47. The greatest off-spinner of all-time, Muralitharan thinks he will do well with the ball also.
"He's is very good bowler and he will do well in this wicket. Also, they have Jadeja as the spinner so third, fourth and fifth day onwards spinners will play a vital role in this Test," the legend said.
Captain Rangana Herath had to settle for 1/159 in the first innings despite bowling his heart out and Muralitharan praised the Indian batsmen for their performance.
"Wicket didn't help much and India batted well on the first two days."