'Man of the match should have gone to Murali'

'Man of the match should have gone to Murali'

Muttiah Muralitharan is four days shy of his 40th birthday, but the magic in his fingers has still not waned. The Delhi Daredevils learned that the hard way on a hot Saturday evening in Bangalore. 

The legendary Lankan offie, who was on his debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore, grabbed three Daredevils wickets -- Aaron Finch, Naman Ojha and Glenn Maxwell -- to tie down the Delhi batsmen in an exemplary spell.  

His fabled spin wasn’t on view as much on the day -- in no way did that reduce the sorcery of his craft -- but his accuracy and variations, including a couple of those much-dreaded ‘doosras’, were too much for the unsuspecting Delhi batsmen, who might have hoped for a less intense effort from the master. 

Man of the match and wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, who had the best seat in the stadium to watch the mystic art of Muralitharan unfold, was humbled. “He’s a legend of the game, he’s a wicket taker. His wickets shifted the momentum, and that’s exactly what he’s there for. The man of the match should’ve gone to Murali,” said de Villiers. 

The South African rated the chance to keep wickets for Muralitharan as a dream come true for him. “This was the first time I kept to Murali. It’s a dream come true. I was worried about not being able to read him but I managed it. Keeping to him is probably easier than batting against him. When I used to play against him, I felt he could get me out any time,” said de Villiers. 

The value of Muralitharan’s performance on the day was increased manifold because it came on a wicket that did not have much for the bowlers, apart from the hint of double pace. “Actually, the wicket turned out a pretty good one despite the ball coming on to the bat a bit slow,” said Doug Bracewell, who grabbed three wickets for Daredevils. 

A few days back, Royal Challengers skipper Daniel Vettori said Muralitharan would be fighting for a spot in the side with Dirk Nannes and some other imported players as a franchise can only field four foreign players in the eleven. But now, the Kiwi would certainly be rethinking his strategies.

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