ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 quarter-final: Sri Lanka v England
Venue: Colombo Date: Saturday, 26 March (0900 GMT)
Coverage: Highlights on BBC Two (see listings), Red Button & online at 2200 GMT (UK only); live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online); text commentary online and mobiles; live on Sky Sports
Muralitharan is set to be fit to face England
Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss believes spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will be fit to face England in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final in Colombo.
The 38-year-old off-spinner pulled his hamstring in the last group match against New Zealand and had a shortened nets session on Wednesday.
"We are very confident that he will play and I think he's pretty confident he will play as well," said Bayliss.
"He's played through a few niggles in the past and I'm sure he will be fine."
Muralitharan retired from Test cricket last year but remained in the limited-overs set-up although he announced in January that the World Cup would be his final international tournament
He strained his right hamstring when he dived while batting against New Zealand but still managed to take 4-25 in Sri Lanka's convincing 153-run victory to bring his wicket total in this World Cup to 11.
Muttiah Muralitharan celebrates another wicket
Sangakkara and Murali see off Kiwis
Muralitharan, who became the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets on the final day of his Test career last July, would pose a real threat to the English batsmen on a surface which is likely to suit the Sri Lankan slow bowlers.
But Bayliss, who himself will step down from his post after the tournament, said the Sri Lankan attack was about more than just one bowler.
"He's certainly an important part of the team but you have a look at some of the guys like [Ajantha] Mendis, [Angelo] Mathews - those type of guys and Thisara Perera, they've done extremely well and have played a big part in the success of our team.
"Apart from maybe a 20-over stint in our batting against Pakistan, we've played some very good quality cricket. That's what we've tried to achieve over the last few years to play consistently good cricket."
The coach added that he expected a tough challenge from England despite Andrew Strauss's team having endured a roller-coaster tournament which saw them beat West Indies and South Africa but lose to Ireland and Bangladesh.
Since the start of the tournament England have lost key batsman Kevin Pietersen and frontline bowlers in Stuart Broad and Ajmal Shahzad, all to injury.
But Bayliss feels England's close matches against South Africa and the West Indies have made them battle-hardened.
"English teams always have strong back-ups, they've obviously lost a few players due to injury but their back-up strength is usually deep and they are professionals, so it will be a tough game on Saturday," said Bayliss.
Click to play
Archive: Muralitharan takes 800th Test wicket
"They have played very good cricket and have had close situations towards the end of the game.
"Somewhere along the line England will have a good game, so we are going to approach this match as though they are playing some very good cricket. We are under no illusions."
Bayliss added that playing before a 35,000-capacity crowd will be an encouragement for his players.
"The guys are used to it, they play with that expectation all the time. The best players enjoy the situation that egg them on to actually perform better, playing in front of that big crowd," he said.
The relaid wicket at the stadium has given encouragement to the teams chasing targets with Sri Lanka nearly chasing down Pakistan 277-7 in the group match before falling 11 runs short.
But despite coming close to beating Pakistan, Bayliss hinted batting first could still be a better option.
"Probably the wicket slows up a little bit and makes it more difficult for batting. But I think more than anything it's the mindset," he commented.
"The wickets are lot easier to bat second than it was two-three years ago. Whatever score is made in the first innings, the team batting second is quite capable of knocking those runs off."
deal or no deal