Muralitharan racing against time to be fit for semifinal

Muralitharan, who will bid farewell to international cricket after the World Cup, pulled his hamstring during the quarterfinal match against England here Saturday. The off-spinner earlier battled a knee injury in a group game against New Zealand but bowled well to take four wickets.

Muralitharan, however, is expected to take the field as he would like to play before the home crowd for last time. The final will be held in Mumbai.

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said they are monitoring Muralitharan's situation and they want their No.1 bowler for the crunch game.

"I think Murali and everyone around him are trying to get him as fit as possible and ready to play. It is no use thinking of finals because this is the crunch game," Sangakkara said.

"If he can play tomorrow, that'll be great for us. He had two different injuries -- he knocked his knee in Mumbai and just aggravated a quad muscle, a very slight strain in the game against England. It is not the same injury but we'll have to monitor how he goes. If he can't, we have enough cover. We are still a solid and winning side."

Muralitahran has so far taken 13 wickets in seven matches, the best by any Sri Lankan and eighth in the overall list of wicket-takers for this World Cup.

Sangakkara said they will decide on Muralitharan's inclusion on the day of the match. "We have to make sure that the team and the player are both comfortable with the situation. It is an ongoing assessment. We are hoping he would be fine but if he's not, it's something that we accept and get on with it," said Sangakkara, who after the league match against New Zealand hailed Muralitharan for almost bowling on "one leg".

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