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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 22:58 GMT
Murali undergoes surgery
Muralitharan (right) celebrates taking the wicket of Damien Martyn
Murali will need to wait before terrorising Australia
Sri Lanka's star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will miss the first half of the forthcoming limited overs series against Australia and England.

The off-spinner had a hernia operation in Melbourne on Tuesday and team doctor Quintus de Zylva does not want to rush his recovery.

"He's recovering okay. But he's unlikely to be fit for competitive cricket until in the New Year."

That means Muralitharan will miss a potential showdown with umpire Darrell Hair, who famously no-balled him for throwing in the 1995-96 Melbourne Test against Australia.

Hair will stand in Sri Lanka's game against England at Brisbane on 17 December.

Muralitharan needs only three more wickets to reach 300 in one-day international cricket.

Only Wasim Akram (485) and Waqar Younis (399) of Pakistan, and Indian spinner Anil Kumble (300) exceed Muralitharan's current total.

The VB series in Australia will be a vital part of Sri Lanka's build-up towards next February's World Cup.

They are hoping to regain the trophy they lifted in 1996, but have been in poor form lately and suffered a six-wicket defeat by South Africa in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

See also:

27 Nov 02 | Cricket
11 Nov 02 | Cricket
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