Muralitharan the ultimate spin doctor for SCC tourney

Spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan will be the star attraction at the annual Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) Twenty20 tournament, which starts on Friday at the Padang and Indian Association ground.

The legendary Sri Lankan bowler, who holds the world record for the most wickets in Tests (800) and one-day internationals (534), will turn out for the hosts SCC, along with former Australia opening batsman Ed Cowan, 35, and Sri Lanka all-rounder Farveez Maharoof, 32.

The 45-year-old spin bowler, who courted controversy during his international career with an unconventional bowling action, retired from international cricket in 2010 but continues to play T20 cricket for franchises in Australia and the Caribbean.

He also serves as a bowling coach for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

"Playing alongside Murali will be a big learning experience for me," said 20-year-old Singapore left-arm spinner Abhiraj Singh, who is preparing to take part in this month's SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

"We (SCC) have a strong team this year and the tournament gives an opportunity for young players to compete with battle-hardened players from the major cricketing nations."

The Sinhalese Sports Club from Colombo, winners in 2009 and 2011, will be arriving with the likes of Sri Lankan internationals Sachithra Senanayake, 32, and Dhammika Prasad, 34, while defending champions Madras Cricket Club will likely field noted Indian players L. Balaji, 35, S. Badrinath, 36, and Rajat Bhatia, 37.

Other teams taking part in the tournament are Australia's Melbourne Cricket Club and Sydney Cricket Ground XI, Hong Kong's Kowloon Cricket Club, South Africa's Rowlin National Cricket Academy and the Singapore Emerging Stars XI.

The Emerging Stars have roped in Nepal's Paras Khadka, 29, and Mehboob Alam, 35, IPL veterans Shadab Jakati, 36, and Balachandra Akhil, 39, and a host of Singapore national team players, including Chetan Suryawanshi, 32, and Chaminda Ruwan, 38.

"SCC T20 is South-east Asia's premier tournament of this kind, and we expect world-class competitive games over three days," said the tournament's organising committee chairman Pushpendra Sharma. "Fans can look forward to a long weekend of fun-filled activities at the Padang."

For the first time, in the fifth edition of the SCC T20, cheerleaders will be present at the matches. Fans will get prizes for taking catches beyond the boundary rope. Entry to the matches is free.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Muralitharan the ultimate spin doctor for SCC tourney'. Print Edition | Subscribe