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Friday, July 23, 2010

800 all out - a tribute to the greatest spin bowler in cricket history

Muttiah Muralitharan created cricket history on Thursday when he became the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets.

His achievements are remarkable - he has taken 10 wickets in a Test match on 22 occasions, 12 times more than Shane Warne, who sits in second in the all-time wicket-takers' list. Although his career has been plagued by controversy because of his unorthodox bowling action, Muralitharan remains one of the greatest players the game has seen - not to mention one of the most popular.

The Sri Lanka off-spinner, 38, who made his Test debut in 1992, began his final match against India on 792 wickets. He ousted record Test run-scorer Sachin Tendulkar on Tuesday and went on to take 5-63 as India had to follow on. Team-mate Lasith Malinga took 5-50 but with the last pair together, Murali had last man Pragyan Ojha caught by Mahela Jayawardene at slip to reach his 800. It left Sri Lanka needing to score 95 to win the match and take a 1-0 lead in the series, which their openers did with little fuss, but Muralitharan's achievement - reached in his 133rd Test - will overshadow the game.

Needing three wickets in the second innings to reach the magic 800 mark, he removed Yuvraj Singh with the last ball of the fourth day, and trapped fellow off-spinner Harbhajan Singh lbw early on day five.
With paceman Malinga liable to blast the Indian tail away at any time, Murali had to wait for his moment - having lbw and stumping appeals turned down, while seeing VVS Laxman, India's last recognised batsman, run out off his bowling. Last pair Ojha and Ishant Sharma resisted for 15 overs, but the safe hands of Jayawardene, one of the most reliable slip fielders of the modern era, fell to his left and pouched his 157th Test catch to begin the Sri Lankan celebrations.

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