Muralitharan ends Test career with a staggering 800 wickets (Lead)

July 22nd, 2010 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Galle (Sri Lanka), July 22 (IANS) Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan brought the curtains down on his illustrious Test career, claiming his 800th Test wicket in his last match against India here Thursday.
It was a perfect finish to a long career, spanning 18 years. Murali needed eight wickets in his swansong Test to reach the the landmark figure of 800 and he just about managed it, claiming the last Indian wicket for match figures of eight for 191, and setting up yet another Sri Lankan victory.

The wily off-spinner walked off the Test arena Thursday, leaving behind a marvellous legacy and a haul of wickets not easy to reach for any modern-day bowler. Since Australian Shane Warne quit cricket, Murali was the lone man competing with himself for records.

In 133 matches, he has 800 wickets at an average of 22.72. He has taken 10 wickets in a match an astonishing 22 times and five wickets in an innings 67 times — the most by any bowler. Warne is the second best with 708 wickets in 145 Tests at an average of 25.41.

Murali,38, took five wickets in the first innings here, as India were bowled out for 276.

In the second innings, he needed three wickets to reach the magic figure of 800. After dismissing Yuvraj Singh Wednessday, Murali was quick to remove Harbahajan Singh in the morning, but it was an agonising wait for the last wicket. It looked as if a resolute Indian tail would deny the great bowler his final hurrah.

Murali’s wife, Madhimalar, son Naren and the entire family was present to see him in action for the last time in a Test. There was a good turn out of his supporters, too, with larg size cutouts of his in the backdrop around the stadium.

But the Indian tail kept Murali waiting and there was a stage he looked clearly frustrated when the last pair, Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha, kept him at bay.

The tail batted around V.V.S Laxman, who made 69 from 127 balls. He shared a 68-run eighth wicket stand with Ishant Sharma, who played a defiant innings, facing 106 balls for his 31. After Laxman was run out, Ojha consumed another 50 balls making 13.

Murali was getting considerable turn and bounce from the pitch, but could not break the defiant last-wicket stand.

Eventually, the moment came when the legendary offie found the edge of prodding Ojha and Mahela Jayawardene took a good catch. Murali was lustily cheered all the way back to the pavilion with his teammates carrying him on their shoulders. He received a standing ovation from his family and others in the pavilion.

When Murali made his debut against Australia in Colombo in 1992 and claimed Craig McDermott as his first Test victim, little did the world know that they have just witnessed the birth of a great bowler.

On his first tour to Australia three years later, Murali was embroiled in a controversy that nearly divided the cricketworld when he was called for chucking for the first time by Darrell Hair.

Murali’s doosra came into limelight when match referee Chris Broad, during Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka in 2004, reported it for illegal straightening of the arm.

Murali had to undergo biomechanical tests at the University of Western Australia in Perth which showed that he was straightening his arm by 10 degrees when bowling doosra, well outside the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) acceptable norm of 5 degrees for spin bowlers.

He was instructed by Sri Lanka Cricket not to bowl the doosra. Later a rule change was proposed and accepted by ICC in early 2005. It said that bowler may straighten their arm up to 15 degrees, and Murali once again started bowling his doosra

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