Murali to be feared and Patel might squeeze in

KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 23, 2007 (AFP) – Muttiah Muralitharan’s extraordinary abilities have transfixed cricket for more than a decade but there will be another off-spinner looking to have a major say when Sri Lanka and New Zealand clash for a World Cup final place. Jeetan Patel wasn’t even sure of his spot in New Zealand’s team when they came to the Caribbean and there is still a chance the 26-year-old might not even make the eleven for Tuesday’s semi-final at Sabina Park, where conditions tend to favour pace bowlers.

But Patel made a strong case for retaining his place by taking two for 48 in 10 overs during a 215-run defeat by Australia on Friday – the Black Caps heaviest reverse in one-day internationals – where he was the only New Zealand bowler with an economy rate of under five an over.

Patel, no relation of former New Zealand off-spinner Dipak, who surprisingly opened the bowling during the 1992 World Cup, recently told the Press Trust of India: “I wasn’t sure of my place in the squad because I wasn’t sure how the wickets here would play. But so far it has been very good.”

In 22 one-day internationals, Patel has so far taken 32 wickets at an average of under 30 apiece with a career economy rate of under five an over.

His ability to pro