Pakistan grapple with Sri Lanka M-factor

February 24, 2011 (AFP) – Pakistan will look to blunt Lasith Malinga and wily off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan in their Group A encounter against Sri Lanka on Saturday, with captain Shahid Afridi confident of a win. Co-hosts Sri Lanka, champions in 1996, and 1992 winners Pakistan are off to flying starts in the tournament with convincing wins against minnows Canada and Kenya, and are primed for their first big match.

“I am confident that we are up to the Sri Lankan challenge and ready for anything they throw at us, whether its Malinga or Muralitharan,” said Afridi.

Muralitharan, who has a world record 521 wickets in 342 one-day internationals, has a tally of 95 against Pakistan in 64 matches, and is even more dangerous in home conditions.

“In Sri Lankan conditions and pitches, he (Muralitharan) is always very dangerous and he could probably turn the ball on the marble as well. He has so much experience and knows conditions well and that’s why he is the best,” said Afridi.

Afridi said Malinga, renowned for his slingy action, would find it tough after missing the Canada match due to a back strain.

“Malinga is a very good bowler but he is coming back from an injury, so let’s see how strong he