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Sri Lankan and CA officials to meet today

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Muttiah Muralitharan.
Muttiah Muralitharan.

Melbourne: Fearing a hostile reception for off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan at the Australian grounds, the Sri Lankan team officials on Friday will meet the Cricket Australia (CA) officials to take stock of the arrangements being made for crowd management.

Muralitharan, who returned to play Test cricket in Australia after 13 years, is just nine shy of overtaking Shane Warne (708) as the highest wicket-taker in the longer version of the game.

He had been subjected to taunts of “chucker” by spectators on his previous visits here and the hostile crowd is likely to have a go at him once again when Sri Lanka plays a two-Test series next month.

The Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss said though the matter would be up for discussion in a meeting Muralitharan remains unaffected by it.

“There is a meeting on Friday with Cricket Australia, and I’m sure it will all come up then. The Australian crowds will probably try to put him off his game, but he has heard all that before. I’m sure it will all come up at the meeting. We aren’t too concerned,” Bayliss was quoted as saying by the Age newspaper.

The Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said his team would not resort to any “silly” extremes while dealing with Australia’s on-field aggression.

Meanwhile, Australian skipper Ricky Ponting says he is confident his team can stop the Sri Lankan from capturing the record in its backyard.

The task of taking nine wickets to surpass the record of Warne’s 708 wickets does not seem too hard for the wily bowler in next month’s two-Test series but Ponting says he is determined not to let it happen in Australia.

“He needs nine wickets to pass Warney’s world record and I want to make it pretty clear that it would be nice if he left Australia not getting those nine wickets,” Ponting was quoted as saying by The Australian.

“If that’s the case, then we’ve done a pretty good job. He’s also made it pretty clear over the years that he feels Australian batsmen play him better than any other team in the world. In saying that, and in our conditions, hopefully we can keep him under wraps,” he added.

Ponting also played down apprehensions that there would be crowd trouble when Muralitharan plays his first Test on Australian soil after 13 years.

The Aussie skipper said he was confident that spectators would behave themselves even if Muralitharan overtakes local hero Warne.

Fired up

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka vice-captain Kumar Sangakkara believes Muralitharan will be fired up to pass Warne’s record, but said the top priority was a successful tour.

“It means a lot to everyone in Sri Lanka that Murali is trying to break the record there,” Sangakkara wrote in his column on www.cricinfo.com.

“He’s going to be as excited as a school boy. But Murali also realises that his getting those nine wickets is only part of this tour. The bigger picture is to beat Australia, everything else is related to that.” — Agencies

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