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Muttiah Muralitharan: Sri Lankan off-spin wizard

Updated on June 1, 2011
Photo tribute to Muttiah Muralitharan
Photo tribute to Muttiah Muralitharan | Source



Full name: Muttiah Muralitharan (also Muralidaran)

Born: April 17 1972 at Kandy, Sri Lanka

Major teams: Sri Lanka, Asia XI, ICC World XI, Lancashire, Kent, Chennai Super Kings, Kandurata, Kochi Tuskers Terala, Tamil Union CAC

Bowling style: Off-break

Batting style: Right-hand

Height: 5'7




Muttiah Muralitharan was the first cricketer to reach 800 Test wickets - a milestone that would be hard to surpass. The right-arm off-break bowler was a constant threat since he entered international cricket in 1992 against Australia at Colombo. Murali had prodigious turns and variations that were hard to pick, but much attention was given to his bowling action.

Muralitharan's bowling action was unique and will be impossible to replicate. He had an unusually flexible wrist and his bent-arm gave the appearance of throwing. In fact, Muralitharan was controversially no-balled by Australian umpire Darrell Hair and Ross Emerson in 1995. Controversy over his action raged on from there on, with cricket fans divided about the legality of his action.

What was unquestionable was his prowess with the ball. Many spinners eventually lose their mystery after batsmen learn how to pick them, but Murali was different; he remained a mystery to many batsmen despite being in international cricket for nearly two decades (1992 - 2011). His international career ended in the World Cup final in Mumbai, where India managed to deny the Sri Lankan maestro a perfect send-off.


Murali beats Wasim Akram's ODI record

Career highlights and achievements


800 Test wickets

Murali's 800th Test wicket came in fairytale circumstances. Sri Lanka needed one wicket to bowl India out on the final day; Murali needed one wicket to reach the 800-mark. The Indian tailenders were resisting, while Murali was bowling an extended spell with the new ball to reach a new plateau. The last-wicket pair lasted 92 balls, but Murali eventually struck. Sri Lanka went on to win by ten wickets in the last session; Murali got his deserved milestone.

Sixty-seven 5-wicket hauls

In his final match, Murali also extended his world record five-wicket hauls to 67. This confirmed him as a match-winner extraordinaire.

Compliments from double world-record holder Brian Lara

In an interview, Brian Lara said that Murali was the most difficult spinner he ever faced. The West Indian batting maestro faced spinners like Abdul Qadir, Shane Warne, Mushtaq Ahmed and Saqlain Mushtaq. Although Lara dominated Murali in the 2002 series in Sri Lanka - scoring over 600 runs in the three Tests - his amazing runs-scoring was based on his superior technique against Murali.

Surpassing Wasim Akram's ODI bowling record

Wasim Akram was the first man to reach 500 wickets in ODIs. Murali was the second man to reach that, but he eventually surpassed the wily Pakistan left-arm fast bowler to claim 534 scalps in ODI as well. That made Murali a double world-record holder as well.

World Cup winner - 1996

In the 1996 World Cup final, Murali's parsimonious spell of 1/31 off ten overs helped to restrict the Aussies to 241. Sri Lanka romped home by seven wickets. Murali only won the World Cup once, but he helped Sri Lanka to reach the finals in 2007 and 2011, and the semi-finals in 2003.


Murali makes Test history



While Murali scored over 1000 Test runs, he had no claims as an all-rounder. He was just a good Number 11. However, with the ball there was no equal. Murali had prodigious turn, and could get tremendous bounce off the wicket. His wristy bowling action made it hard to pick his delivery.

The Kandy man also had the controversial doosra, but was prohibited from bowling it after it was found that there were more than 15 degrees of flex when he bowled that particular delivery. Murali did not even need the doosra, as he continued to rake in the wickets at all levels of the game. His statistics bear that out.

Muralitharan's Bowling Records

Match type 
Strike Rate
List A 
Source: Cricinfo

Murali versus Warnie

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