Warne and Murali to face off in BBL opener

GREG BUCKLE
Last updated 18:23 03/12/2012
Shane Warne
Getty Images
STAR TURN: Shane Warne of the Stars celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of Brendon McCullum of the Heat in last season's Big Bash League.

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Sri Lankan import Muttiah Muralitharan has welcomed the hype as he and Shane Warne go head-to-head one last time to headline Friday's Big Bash League opener.

Cricket's two greatest slow bowlers will clash when Muralitharan's Melbourne Renegades host Warne's tournament favourites the Melbourne Stars at Etihad Stadium.

The match-up is a promoter's dream, but Muralitharan said he was focussed on performing for the Renegades and not just the contest with Warne.

He also claimed there was plenty of interest with other players in the match, with former Sri Lanka pace spearhead Lasith Malinga also lining up for the Stars.

"It will be a big hype and it will be a great contest, not between us, between both teams," Murali said of the Warne-Murali show.

"I don't think I'm here for the (showbiz) industry. I'm here to perform for the Renegades and do something for them.

"My aim is to just try to do well in the match, give 200 per cent and try as hard as I can.

"Hopefully with this hype, business-wise it will benefit both (Melbourne) teams.

"It's good for the Big Bash and good for Australian cricket as well because you need a little bit of hype.

"Like the IPL, a lot of hype is created and then the sponsors will come and money is flowing and cricket will benefit.

"There'll be a big Sri Lankan crowd because when we played last time I could see about 30,000 Sri Lankans at the MCG.

"So hopefully we get good crowds."

Renegades' bowling coach Merv Hughes jokingly suggested 70 wickets would be a good return for Murali.

"If I take 70 wickets? I'm playing only eight matches!," Murali told reporters.

"My target would be 15 or 16 wickets, that's two a game."

Murali is backing his home country to perform strongly in their three-Test series against Michael Clarke's men starting in Hobart on December 14.

"The Australian side is not as powerful as before. When we played, they were one of the best teams ever," he said.

"If the wicket starts turning then Rangana Herath will be a big threat for Australia.

"I understand Australia don't play left-arm spin well."

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