Colombo:Muttiah Muralitharan, who played a major role in Chennai Super Kings' victory in the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa, has been named in Sri Lanka's 16-member squad for the upcoming, short limited-overs tour of Australia.
The 38-year-old offspinner ended his Test career in July after becoming the first bowler to capture 800 wickets in the format. He is also the leading wicket-taker in one-dayers, with 515 scalps to his name, and is expected to play a leading role in Sri Lanka's build up towards the 2011 World Cup in the subcontinent from February.
Sri Lanka's chairman of selectors Aravinda de Silva said that when Muralitharan retired from Test cricket, he had agreed with the selectors to play in the Australia series and the World Cup. "Muralitharan is definitely part of our World Cup plans and we have included him to give him some international exposure ahead of the big event."
Suraj Randiv, the offspinner, has also been picked alongside Muralitharan. But de Silva stated that on Australian wickets it is most likely that only one spinner would play. "Jeevan Mendis who bowls legspin and Tillakaratne Dilshan's offspin can also be utilized," de Silva said.
The squad includes five fast bowlers - Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Kulasekara, Dammika Prasad and Thisara Perera - to suit Australian conditions. Allrounder Angelo Mathews' selection is subject to fitness as he recovers from a strained left thigh muscle. Thilina Kandamby has been put on standby.
Sri Lanka will play three one-day warm-up matches against Queensland and New South Wales before facing Australia in a Twenty20 fixture and three ODIs.
Squad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt and wk), Mahela Jayawardene (vice-capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Chamara Silva, Jeevan Mendis, Angelo Mathews (subject to fitness, if not to be replaced by Thilina Kandamby), Chamara Kapugedara, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekera, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Suraj Randiv, Dammika Prasad, Dinesh Chandimal