IPL 2020: Spin legend Muralitharan turns back the clock
The Sri Lankan whipped up that old magic while bowling to the SRH batsmen during the nets
Old habits die hard, it seems.
The run-up was still there and so was that unique bowling action. It was a rare sighting at the ICC Cricket Academy as the Sunrisers Hyderabad embarked on yet another practice session ahead of this season's Indian Premier League (IPL).
Spin great Muttiah Muralitharan couldn't hold back his love for the game as he had a bowl at the nets. And although he might be on the other side of 40, the Sri Lankan whipped up that old magic that baffled batsmen around the world through the 90s and noughties.
Muralitharan took the mind back to those days of yore when his then captain Arjuna Ranatunga used to toss the ball to him and the then sprightly young man weaved magic on the hallowed turf of Lord's to the MCG Down Under.
The off-spinner went on to etch his name in the pantheon of greats, becoming the highest wicket taker in Test cricket and ODIs.
And it was a learning experience not just for the Sunrisers bowlers, who watched him with keenness, but also the batsman, who got to face one of the greatest bowlers in the world.
"When I come to our training, without bowling it will be boring," said Muralitharan, with the trademark and infectious smile.
"So, I thought I will give them a hand because there aren't as many net bowlers. We had to bring net bowlers from India so not enough reserves. So, I'm just giving a hand and just bowling and I'm enjoying myself," he added.
Muralitharan, who represented the Chennai Super Kings, Royal Challengers Bangalore and the now defunct Kochi Tuskers, is the bowling coach of the Sunrisers.
Muralitharan is part of a reshuffled coaching set-up with the Sunrisers having roped in England's World Cup-winning coach Trevor Bayliss, with Brad Haddin as his deputy.
Australian Bayliss replaced compatriot Tom Moody, who was at the helm from 2013, while former Australian wicketkeeper Haddin came in for Simon Helmot.
And Muralitharan, who has an astonishing 800 wickets in Tests and 534 scalps in ODIs, knows Bayliss from close quarters, when the latter coached Sri Lanka from 2007 to 2011, which culminated in a runners-up finish at the World Cup in India.
"The coach, I know, he had coached me as well for four years in Sri Lanka. So, we know each other. I think it's a new addition and it's a different way of thinking. Over the last seven years, Tom was very good with us and hopefully TB (Trevor Bayliss) will do a better job," hoped Muralitharan.
Under Moody, the Sunrisers won the IPL in 2016 and finished runners-up in 2018. They also made the play-offs in 2013, 2017 and last season.
This season, the franchise has focussed on young blood to go with the experience of mainstays such as captain Australia's David Warner, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, India's Manish Pandey and Wriddhiman Saha as well as England's Jonny Bairstow.
And Muralitharan hoped that guys like Virat Singh, Priyam Garg and Abdul Samad will come good in the tournament.
"This year, we went with very young talent because we are looking at giving opportunities to the youngsters and try to get the best out of them. We are trying this and hopefully, fingers crossed, our trying will come good," he said.
The Sunrisers begin their campaign against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on September 21.
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