Kolkata: Bengal on Monday came out with a prize catch for its campaign in the forthcoming Ranji Trophy season by roping in Sri Lankan spin wizard and Test cricket's highest wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan.
The Cricket association of Bengal (CAB) managed to rope in the legendary off-spinner after pondering over scores of names including his compatriot Sanath Jayasuriaya and Australia's Ricky Ponting.
Sri Lanka Cricket has already given the 36-year-old spinner a no-objection certificate to play for Bengal in the 2008-09 Ranji Trophy season.
"The Lankan board chief, Duleep Mendis, has sent across a fax to us, mentioning that Muralitharan will be available for Bengal in the upcoming first-class engagements," CAB president Jagmohan Dalmiya said.
Following the confirmation of the SLC's letter, the CAB also obtained a green signal from the BCCI, added Dalmiya.
The former ICC president however refused to share further details.
"Murali is now available to play for Bengal. With his experiences, Bengal cricket will benefit heavily. Further details of his availability will come later," Dalmiya added.
The Dalmiya-led CAB has earlier roped in 1983 World Cup hero Mohinder Amaranath as Bengal's consultant.
However, it's not yet known if Murali will play in the initial stages of the Ranji Trophy or will join the team only in the knock-out phase.
However, some CAB insiders fear that his Indian Premier League (IPL) side Chennai Super Kings could make a last ditch effort to woo the top off-spinner for one last time before the transfer window closes.
If the Sri Lankan spin wizard eventually shows up, then Bengal will be fielding two high-profile names — Murali and former India captain Sourav Ganguly — in the Ranji Trophy's otherwise low-key Plate League.
The BCCI has fixed October 1 as the deadline for state associations to register foreign cricketers as 'guest players' for the 2008-09 domestic season.
The Sunil Gavaskar-led Technical Committee, had on August 30, decided lect a maximum of four outstation players — one of whom can be a foreigner — in their squads.
Thirty-six-year-old Muralitharan eclipsed the previous record-holder Shane Warne to become Test cricket's highest wicket taker in Test cricket.
He is also the second highest wicket-taker in One Day Internationals.
Bengal open their Ranji Trophy (Plate League) campaign against Assam in Guwahati on November 3.