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Muralitharan Was Confident of Reaching 800 Wickets in His Last Test: Sangakkara

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Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan is arguably the best spinner the world has seen and his feat of 800 Test wickets remains to be untouched by any bowler. In a chat with R Ashwin, then Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara revealed a story during 2010 series against India, where the spinner decided to hang up his boots after the first Test.

Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan is arguably the best spinner the world has seen and his feat of 800 Test wickets remains to be untouched by any bowler. In a chat with R Ashwin, then Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara revealed a story during 2010 series against India, where the spinner decided to hang up his boots after the first Test.

Back then he was still eight wickets shy of the 800-mark, but even after a lot of coaxing he decided to just play the first Test only. It looked like a tough task to complete the milestone against Team India, who played spin well, but Muralitharan took up the challenge.

“He was 8 wickets away from 800. 800 Test wickets, as we all know is an incredible amount. He said he wanted to retire in the India series and I was the captain. I sat with the selectors and said, he wants to retire after the 1st Test. It’s not going to happen. We got to get him to get those 8 wickets and retire. So we called Murali into a meeting,” Sangakkara told Ashwin during the latest episode of Reminisce with Ash.

“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.

“'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.’

“I was seated then and I was thinking, that’s the kind of champion the guy was,” Sangakkara further said.

With a fifer in the first innings and a three wicket haul in the second, Murali not only achieved the milestone but also ensured that Sri Lanka won the match by 10 wickets.

first published:May 30, 2020, 09:42 IST