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Former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara has revealed that Muttiah Muralitharan was confident of scaling down the mountain of 800 Test wickets in his swansong match. The legendary off-spinner needed eight wickets to get to the remarkable feat and Sangakkara advised Murali to play one more Test if he isn’t able to get the record in the first Test against India.
However, Muralitharan was adamant to play only one Test match. Kumar Sangakkara recalled the incident and said that it would have been a big tragedy if the legendary spinner had felt short of the milestone. Thus, he advised him to play one more Test.
Muttiah Muralitharan was a magician with the ball
However, Murali had made up his mind that this would his final Test match. If he gets to 800 Test wickets, well and good but he doesn’t get to the feat, he would be fine. The legendary off-spinner took a five-wicket haul in the first innings and followed it with three more wickets in the second dig. Thus, Murali reached 800 and Sri Lanka also won convincingly by 10 wickets.
“I said ‘Murali, we know you like taking up challenges. But think of it this way. It’s a tragedy if you come so close and don’t get your 800. So you can play the 1st Test, and then if you are too tire or have a niggle, take the 2nd Test off and you come back for the 3rd Test. Or you can take 2 Tests off and come back for the next series.
“Murali looked at us and said ‘you know what? That is not going to work for you or for me. I have always loved challenges and if I am supposed to be the best spinner, I should be able to take 8 wickets at Galle against any side,” Sangakkara recalled while talking to Ravichandran Ashwin on Instagram.
“’And If I take 8 wickets, I am not just going to get my 800, we are going to win this Test match as well. If I can’t get it, I can’t get it. So this is my last Test. Thank You very much, I am going to take 8 wickets.’
In fact, Murali could have finished with 799 wickets in his illustrious Test career. Only one wicket was remaining in India’s second innings and Murali was also one away from the landmark. The off-spinner was able to take the final wicket of Pragyan Ojha and the rest is history.
Muttiah Muralitharan always had the confidence in his skills and he went down as one of the best spinners to have embraced the game. The off-spinner had a plethora of tricks up his sleeve and it was never easy to pick him up. The off-spinner also scalped 534 wickets in 350 ODI matches and he is also the leading wicket-taker in the 50 overs version.