Cricket: Murali is still top of Red Rose wish list

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LANCASHIRE WANT Muttiah Muralitharan rather than Glenn McGrath as their overseas player for 2000. The controversial Sri Lankan spinner will play a handful of games for the Old Trafford side this season after the World Cup and they want him to return for a full term next year.

The club are monitoring the McGrath situation now the Australian fast bowler has announced he is available for county cricket. Lancashire spokesman Dave Edmundson said: "Like all other counties we have been circulated about McGrath, but we have not discussed him and we have not made an approach."

Durham were again frustrated by the weather as they progressed from 32 for 1 to 153 for 4 to lead Worcestershire by a single run after three miserable days at Chester-le-Street. Half-centuries by Jon Lewis and John Morris put the hosts in a dominant position but rain restricted the day's play to 38 overs.

Rival captains Wasim Akram and Mohammad Azharuddin find themselves under unwanted pressure as India and Pakistan prepare for the Champions Cup final in Sharjah today.

While Akram has had renewed charges of match-fixing thrown at him by a former team-mate, there are growing calls for Azharuddin to be replaced as India's World Cup captain by Ajay Jadeja.

The former Pakistani wicketkeeper Rashid Latif accused Akram and his team of throwing Monday's match against England, saying the boys were "up to their old tricks again".

"The guys are once again making fools of the public," Latif said after Pakistan crashed to a shocking 62-run defeat, England's only success in the three-nation tournament. He added that he felt "something fishy" had started again in the team.

Akram, at the centre of an ongoing judiciary inquiry on betting and match- fixing at home, dismissed Latif's claims. "Latif is a frustrated character who cannot bear to see the Pakistani team do well," Akram said. "It seems we have to win every game we play to keep the allegations at bay. As a captain, I know my team is honest and above board."

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