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Muttiah Muralitharan reaches 800 Test wickets landmark

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Muralitharan takes 800th wicket

Muttiah Muralitharan became the first bowler to take 800 Test wickets on the final day of his Test career in Galle.

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.

BBC graphic

"Galle is my favourite ground and this is the opportunity I was waiting for to win the match and finish it nicely," said Muralitharan after finishing with match figures of 8-191.

"In my mind it was not the 800 running in to bowl. Running in I was thinking 'we have to win the match'.

"Galle can be sometimes unpredictable and it can rain. A draw would have been a sad result.

"But today it was evening up, especially the magnificent bowling by Malinga. Nobody could bowl like that in the world. He made the difference."

Among the first of many former and current players to congratulate Muralitharan was his former rival Shane Warne, who admitted: "I don't think anyone will get there, so well done to Murali for getting his 800.

"The way he's gone about it has been amazing."

Earlier in July, the BBC Sinhala Service revealed Muralitharan's retirement plans - and he later confirmed that this Test in Galle, the first of a three-game series, would be his last.

He is expected to continue to play limited-overs internationals, including next spring's World Cup which will be staged in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.

606: THE MURALITHARAN DEBATE
BBC Sport's Pranav Soneji

Born in Kandy, Muralitharan has also taken 515 wickets in 337 one-day internationals, and a further 13 in Twenty20 internationals.

His unique bent-arm bowling action, caused by a deformity from birth, has meant that he has courted controversy at times during his career.

Some umpires and former players have questioned his action's legality - notably in Australia, where umpires Darrell Hair and Ross Emerson no-balled him for throwing, and former prime minister John Howard once called him a "chucker", although he later apologised.

The mechanics of his bowling action have been investigated and cleared on more than one occasion by the International Cricket Council, although in 2005 the ICC amended its rules to allow bowlers to straighten their arms by up to 15 degrees.

MURALI'S 800 TEST WICKETS
England's Paul Collingwood (left) became Murali's record 709th victim in December 2007
112 v England (in 16 Tests)
105 v India (in 22)
104 v South Africa (in 15)
89 v Bangladesh (in 11)
87 v Zimbabwe (in 14)
82 v New Zealand (in 14)
82 v West Indies (in 12)
80 v Pakistan (in 16)
59* v Australia (in 13)
*includes 5 for ICC World XI in 2005

Throughout most of his Test career, he battled Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne for the title of Test cricket's leading wicket-taker, and the Sri Lankan took top spot ahead of Courtney Walsh and Warne in May 2004 with his 520th wicket, before an enforced spell on the sidelines after having shoulder surgery allowed Warne to forge ahead.

But after Warne's international retirement, Muralitharan reclaimed the crown on his home ground in Kandy in December 2007 by bowling England's Paul Collingwood for his 709th wicket.

Away from the international game, he has had spells with English counties Kent and Lancashire, and also starred for Chennai Super Kings in the lucrative Indian Premier League - taking 1-17 from his four overs as Chennai won this year's IPL final.

Speaking before the Test, he explained that his decision to quit five-day cricket was because of the wear and tear on his body.

"I've played for 19 years, I'm getting tired and getting old," he told the BBC.

"There are a lot of good spinners waiting for their chance, and hopefully they can become like me one day."

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see also
Reaction to Muttiah Muralitharan's 800
22 Jul 10 |  Sri Lanka
Murali seals feat in easy victory
22 Jul 10 |  Cricket
The man who reinvented spin bowling
22 Jul 10 |  South Asia
Cricket legend Murali on retiring
22 Jul 10 |  South Asia
Muralitharan to retire from Tests
06 Jul 10 |  Sri Lanka
Muralitharan breaks Test record
03 Dec 07 |  Sri Lanka
Muralitharan - the record-breaker
03 Dec 07 |  Sri Lanka
Murali cleared by yet more tests
04 Feb 06 |  Cricket


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
IAfrica.com India in early trouble - 1 hr ago
Sri Lanka Daily News On delivering with unforgettable smiles - 2 hrs ago
Yahoo! UK and Ireland Murali's 800th wicket sets up Sri Lanka victory - 8 hrs ago
Pakistan Times Sri Lanka outclass India by 10 wickets - 10 hrs ago
Weekly Voice Muralitharan Retires In Style With 800 Wickets - 10 hrs ago


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