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Murali – A must pick for any fantasy XI.

YESTERDAY in Galle Sri Lanka beat rivals India in the first Test match of their series by 10 wickets. But the result doesn’t really matter when you consider the significance of the match.

Muttiah Muralitharan was playing in his last ever Test match for Sri Lanka – the end of a record breaking and rule book rewriting era.

The off-spinner played his first Test for Sri Lanka against Australia way back in late August 1992, and made Craig McDermott his first victim by trapping him L.B.W. Muralitharan’s last wicket was that of India’s Pragyan Ojha. This was the last ball he would ever bowl in Test Cricket, and with it took his 800th wicket.

I doubt that we will ever see this record surpassed in our life-times, if indeed ever. The closest any other bowler comes to him in terms of wickets taken is Australia’s Shane Warne with 708.

Now to me, Cricket is a game of statistics. So here are some of Muralitharan’s astonishing bowling numbers from his 133 Test matches (one of which was played for ICC World XI).

Overs

Maidens

Runs

Wickets

Economy

Average

Strike Rate

7,339.5

1,792

18,180

800

2.48

22.73

55.05

Murali took 67 five wicket innings, and 22 ten wicket matches along the way. These are both international records to his name, as are these:

  • Most international wickets in all forms of the game – 1,320.
  • Only player to take ten wickets in a match against every other Test nation.
  • Only player to take ten wickets in a match in four consecutive matches. (He did this twice).
  • Only player to take 50 wickets against every other Test nation.
  • Only player to take seven wickets in an innings against five Test nations.
  • Most Bowled dismissals – 157. (This is the most common dismissal in Test Cricket bar Run Out).
  • Most Stumped dismissals – 41.
  • Most Caught & Bowled dismissals – 31.
  • Most Man of the Series awards – 11.
  • Only player to take 75+ wickets in a calendar year three times – 2000, 2001 & 2006.

Correct at time of publication.

He never took all ten wickets in an innings unfortunately. Muralitharan’s best in that department is 9 for 51 against Zimbabwe. His best figures in a match are 16 for 220 against England at The Oval in 1998.

He was also handy with a bat in his hand instead of a ball. He scored 1,261 runs at an average of 11.68. His best score was 67 against India in 2001. But he scored 33 Ducks and four Pairs as well, so it is a good thing he didn’t quit his day job – causing the batsmen the world over hell. Muralitharan also made himself useful in the field taking 72 catches.

Personally I’m sad to see him go, but at the age of 38 I can see why he has decided to call an end to his Test career, and on the highest possible note to boot.

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