Sri Lanka's Muralitharan pulls out of England tour because of family illness

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The Independent Online

Muttiah Muralitharan is to leave Sri Lanka's tour of England and fly back to the sub-continent for family reasons. Murali is flying to Madras in India due to the illness of his child. He is not expected to play any further part in the tour.

The spinner dominated the Sri Lanka bowling attack during the three Tests, taking a total of 24 wickets at an average of 16.87 as the series was drawn 1-1. However, he could not keep up the same pace in the one-day internationals, taking two wickets in two matches at an average of 49.

A team spokesman said yesterday: "He has already left [the team hotel] and is flying out tomorrow. His child is not well. At the moment we really don't know what the situation is."

Sri Lanka lead the five-match one-day series 2-0 with the third game at Durham tomorrow.

In St Kitts yesterday West Indies got off to a fine start in the third Test against India. Play did not start until after lunch because of a rain-soaked outfield at Warner Park, Test cricket's newest venue, but Brian Lara won the toss for the first time in the series and Chris Gayle and Daren Ganga built a strong foundation to the innings with an opening stand of 143.

Gayle's dismissal for 83 opened the way for India's bowlers to put pressure on Ganga and Ramnaresh Sarwan but they finished the day on 207 for 1.

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