x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chaminda Vaas on stand-by for World Cup final

Sri Lanka will fly out the veteran left-armer and Suraj Randiv as cover for injury concerns over Muttiah Muralitharan and Angelo Mathews.

Chaminda Vaas has not featured for Sri Lanka in an ODI since 2008.
Chaminda Vaas has not featured for Sri Lanka in an ODI since 2008.

Sri Lanka are to fly out the veteran left-armer Chaminda Vaas and the spinner Suraj Randiv as cover ahead of the World Cup final amid injury concerns over Muttiah Muralitharan and Angelo Mathews.

Spin legend Muralitharan is set to play the last match of his illustrious international career in Saturday’s Mumbai showpiece against India and marked his final delivery in his home country by taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Scott Styris.

But he has struggled throughout the tournament with a succession of niggling injuries, most notably knee and hamstring problems.

Mathews, meanwhile, was forced off by a thigh problem while fielding in the semi-final victory over the Black Caps and was forced to bat using Mahela Jayawardene as a runner.

Vaas would be an ideal replacement for Mathews, with his left-arm seam and useful runs from the lower middle-order. The 37-year-old pondered retiring from international cricket after being omitted from his country’s 15-man squad for the tournament.

Randiv, 26, will be available to deputise for Muralitharan should the 39-year-old not make it. It seems inconceivable, however, that a man who has taken 534 ODI wickets and a further 800 in Tests would not be patched up for a 350th and final appearance in the format.

No request has yet been made to officially add either player to the squad, the International Cricket Council confirmed to Press Association Sport, but they will fly out later today and will be available if required.

Meanwhile, Simon Taufel and Aleem Dar have been appointed as the on-field umpires for the final.

The pair have, between them, been named as the ICC’s Umpire of the Year for the last six years, with Taufel winning the award from 2004 to 2008 and Pakistan’s Dar taking the honours for the two years since.

Dar stood in the 2007 final between Australia and Sri Lanka, which ended in a farcical bad light misunderstanding, but Australian Taufel has had to wait for his chance due to his country’s presence - and victories - in the previous three finals.

England’s Ian Gould and another Australian, Steve Davis, will serve as third and fourth umpires respectively, while New Zealand’s Jeff Crowe has been named as the match referee.