Ajantha will take over from Muralitharan: Arjuna predicts

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Chennai, Jul 17 (UNI) ''He should go up step by step, not by the lift before taking over the baton from off-spinner Muthiah Muralitharan'', of Sri Lanka Cricket Board Chairman Arjuna Ranatunga said about the latest spin sensation Ajantha Mendis who shot into the limelight after bowling his team to victory against India in the Asia Cup.

Answering questions at a press conference after unveiling a toursim related scheme here, Arjuna said ''Ajantha would certainly take over the mantle from Murali. But Murali will definitely be playing for three to four years more without any problem.'' The former Lankan captain, who was answering questions on behalf of Ajantha, said the 23 year-old spinner, who has taken the cricket world by surprise with his freakish style of spin bowling, does not succumb to pressure.

''The word pressure does not exist in his dictionary'', Arjuna said.

Asked if Ajantha had worked out a way to peg the Indian batsmen in the forthcoming series, Arjuna said ''he(Ajantha) is not concerned about the reputation of a batsman. That's what he did in the Asia Cup.'' Arjuna further said ''it's a big challenge for him to bowl to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in the coming series.'' ''I was talking to him on this and he was also praising Sachin and other Indian batsmen when we were on the flight to Chennai this morning'', he said.

''He has just come into international cricket. Lot of credit should be given to the way he has bowled in the Asia Cup'', he pointed out.

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