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Friday, 24 December, 1999, 10:54 GMT
Warne eyes Aussie record

Warne needs seven more wickets to overtake Lillee's record

Australian spinner Shane Warne is hoping to become his country's all-time leading wicket-taker when he takes the field in the second Test against India.

And where better than his home ground of Melbourne to surpass the record of 355 Test wickets set by Dennis Lillee.

It has been a fantastic career so far and hopefully it can keep going for a few years yet. There is still a bit of spin left in the fingers and shoulders
Shane Warne
"It would be a fairytale," says Warne, to become Australia's most succesful bowler before his own 104,000-capacity MCG crowd.

"I'm really looking forward to it, when they start banging on the fence, chanting 'Warney' and all that sort of stuff - it's a pretty special feeling," said Warne, who has 349 wickets from 79 Tests.

"But I'm going to try and treat it like any test match. If I wanted to just go out there and try and do that (break the record), I would put myself under too much pressure.

"You don't play for records but when they are there in front of you, you give yourself a bit of a pat on the back and say well done."

Warne took six wickets during Australia's 285-run romp in the first Test in Adelaide and needs seven more to steal Lillee's crown.

Shane Warne dismisses Rahul Dravid Warne claims the wicket of Rahul Dravid in the first Test
But the blong leg-spinner may have to wait until the third and final Test in Sydney, where he made his test debut in January 1992.

That too was against the Indians but Warne hardly shone - taking just one wicket at the cost of 155 runs.

The MCG has provided some of Warne's best cricketing moments although the wicket is forecast to be more suitable for pace at the start of Sunday's Test.

He has taken 32 wickets in six Tests at this ground, including 7-52 against the West Indies in 1992 and a hat-trick against England two seasons later.

Warne has had a colourful career, although as one of the most competitive cricketers in Test cricket, he has always had the support of the sports-mad Aussies.

Warne, not known for his batting skills, scored 86 runs at Adelaide
But earlier this year Warne's form had slipped to such an extent there were serious questions about his international future.

He was heavily criticised during this summer's cricket World Cup, but fought back in the most emphatic manner - being voted man-of-the-match in his country triumphant win over Pakistan in the final and ending the tournament as joint leading wicket-taker.

"There have been a few low points and a lot of high points in my career," said Warne, who has signed for English county side Hampshire next season.

"Overall it has been a fantastic career so far and hopefully it can keep going for a few years yet. There is still a bit of spin left in the fingers and shoulders."

Standing in Warne's way, this time, is India's master batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

Warne was written off before the World Cup - but ended joint top wicket-taker
The dual between Warne and Tendulkar, who has only appeared in one Test match at the MCG when he scored 15 and 40 as an 18-year-old, could be fascinating.

Tendulkar, who normally comes in at No 5, is considering moving himself up the batting order to help his team square their three-match series.

The tourists lost the first test in Adelaide by 285 runs and face a similar drubbing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground unless they can quickly rediscover their form.

Warne's crack at Lillee's record may be sacrificed in the interests of his side's desire for a series-clinching win.

The wicket will be fast and the Aussies have already signalled their intention to attack through pace by calling up the uncapped Brett Lee in their 12-man squad.

Australian captain Steve Waugh believes Lee, who broke the arm of a batsman with one delivery last week, is the fastest bowler he has seen since Australia's legendary 1970s speedster Jeff Thomson.

Queensland fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz has retained his place for a third straight Test and Australia have given out-of-form batsman Mark Waugh, who has passed 13 runs just three times in his past 15 Test innings, another chance.

Australia- Steve Waugh (captain), Michael Slater, Greg Blewett, Justin Langer, Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Damien Fleming, Glenn McGrath, Michael Kasprowicz, Brett Lee.

India: To be announced

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