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Sri Lanka wait on Murali for final showdown against India

Muttiah Muralitharan practices ahead of Saturday's World Cup final between Sri Lanka and India.
Muttiah Muralitharan practices ahead of Saturday's World Cup final between Sri Lanka and India.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Veteran Muttiah Muralitharan battling to be fit for World Cup final against India
  • Murali has struggled throughout tournament with a variety of injuries
  • Off-spin legend trained with Sri Lanka team Friday and expected to play
  • Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka and India's Ashish Nehra ruled out of final

(CNN) -- Sri Lanka are sweating on the fitness of Muttiah Muralitharan ahead of Saturday's Cricket World Cup final showdown against India in Mumbai.

Muralitharan, the all-time leading wicket taker in Tests and one-day internationals, has been struggling with hamstring and knee injuries during the six-week-long tournament.

Despite that, he has taken 15 wickets to help the co-hosts to their third final, winning in 1996 and losing to Australia in 2007.

The 39-year-old off-spinner will bow out of international cricket after the World Cup, and Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara is hopeful he will be fit to play.

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"It's great to have him (Murali) in the side, it's great to hopefully have him tomorrow, and to have him play this World Cup final with us," he told gathered reporters Friday.

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"Whatever happens tomorrow, we want to play for him, and play for each other, and do the best that we can."

Muralitharan earlier trained with the rest of the Sri Lanka squad at the Wankhede Stadium and appeared to be in high spirits.

"Everyone understands it is hard to shut Murali up, whatever his mood is. He's pretty upbeat, he's always talking, laughing and annoying most of the other players in the dressing room. Today has been no different," added Sangakkara.

But Sri Lanka were dealt a blow as all-rounder Angelo Mathews was ruled out of the final with a side strain.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has given them permission to draft in Suraj Randiv into their squad in place of Mathews, who picked up a right thigh strain in the semifinal win over New Zealand Tuesday.

India also have injury problems with seamer Ashish Nehra missing the final due to a broken finger he sustained in the 29-run semifinal win against Pakistan the following day.

It leaves them with a selection dilemma, with spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and paceman Sri Sreesanth battling for Nehra's place.

Sreesanth was expensive in his one appearance in the tournament against Bangladesh, but Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the Mumbai pitch "has a bit of bounce" which may tip the scales in the paceman's favor.

Dhoni insisted Friday that key batsman Gautam Gambhir was fit to play after recovering from a minor hamstring strain he picked up while fielding against Pakistan.

In other World Cup final news, the ICC has renewed its ban on Indian news channels covering the match in Mumbai.

The ban was originally sanctioned by the ICC last week for breaching the media guidelines but was initially overturned after India's information & broadcasting minister intervened.

Interest in the sub-continent in the final is vast and up to 200 million people will watch the match on television.