Muttiah Muralitharan has become the mentor of Tamilnadu Premiere League (TNPL) team Thiruvaller Veerans. Though he is busy with his commitments in TNPL, he has come to Kolkata to train the young Cricketers of Bengal in Vision 2020 project where he is made the spin consultant by Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly. From his busy schedule, the legendary off spinner from Sri Lanka gave time to CricketSoccer for an exclusive interview.

Here are the excerpts:

CricketSoccer: Which team do you think to be favourite to win the ongoing India-Sri Lanka series?

Muttiah Muralitharan: To be very honest, I feel India is favourite to win the test series. They are the current number one test team in ICC rankings. India has a very balanced team, with both the batsman and the bowlers performing up to the mark. They have a decent bowling attack, with pacers and spinners both playing their role perfectly. They have experience. Virat Kohli has a bunch of young, talented players in his team as well. They are clear favourites. But Sri Lanka has the capability to bounce back. After all, it’s cricket, which is a game of uncertainty. You never know what will happen next in a cricket series.

CS: What went wrong for Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle?

Muralitharan: Since retirement from international cricket, I haven’t been a great follower of Sri Lankan cricket, to be very honest. It’s been 5-6 years. I even don’t know some of the cricketers of the current national team. So it’s very difficult to pass a comment on their performance. Yes, I get to talk to the likes of Rangana Herath or Angelo Mathews, but that’s not enough to measure a team’s strength or weakness.

CS: But what could be their motivation for the rest of the series, after being outplayed in the first test?

Muralitharan: Look, donning the national team jersey should be enough motivation for any player. I think Sri Lanka are the underdogs in this series and it may do good for them. They should take a more relaxed approach. They should enjoy the game first.

CS: What would be your message to the team?

Muralitharan: Let’s not think much about the result. Give hundred per cent on the field and make your presence felt. That should be the key to bounce back.

CS: What is your assessment of the spinners of the two teams?

Muralitharan: Both teams have a very decent spin attack. R Ashwin is a class spinners, with a lot of variety. I have played with him in Chennai Super Kings in IPL. He can be fatal. Ravinder Jadeja is also a skilled spinner. We have experienced Herath, who can win matches. But he has an injury. Let’s hope that he makes a quick comeback.

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