An ecstatic Muttiah Muralitharan is probably one of the best visuals for a Sri Lanka cricket fan, and so was he, on the final day of him, spinning the red cherry. The Lankans had bowled India out once, and following on, Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha were trying their best to hang on, as long as possible. India was leading by 94, nowhere a respectable score with a whole day of play left with premier Sri Lankan batsmen in the lineup.
Murali had Ojha set up. He bowled one outside off, as the slip fielders waited like lions to pounce on a piece of meat. The Indian spinner edged it and Mahela Jayawardene lunged to his left to pick it up. Murali was done with it, had signed off as the best spinner to have played the game, with nothing less than 800 Test wickets to his name.
Murali had let know of his intention to retire from Tests before the series against India, in June 2010. By then, he already had 792 wickets. The chances of reaching 800 weren’t really high, but with someone from Murali’s class, can you predict?
#OnThisDay in 2️⃣0️⃣0️⃣8️⃣,Sri Lankan legend & former RCB spin master, Muttiah Muralitharan, picked his 8️⃣0️⃣0️⃣th Test wicket off the last ball of his career & retired from the longest format of the game.🙌🏻
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) July 22, 2021
The spinner himself was determined. Even though he had a lot to do in much less time, he couldn’t have retired inches away from it.
Sri Lanka had posted 520, and India looked comfortable at 101/2 when Murali struck. His first step to the goal was a big one, the prized wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. The next ones weren’t small either, that of skipper MS Dhoni and a well-set Yuvraj Singh.
Murali reached his 67th five-fer with the wickets of Ojha and Abhimanyu Mithun, thus accounting at 797 by the end of India’s first innings. He could sense the milestone approaching, and by then, it seemed quite reachable.
— CricTracker (@Cricketracker) July 22, 2021
The second innings began, and Yuvraj got out in the same fashion as before, edging one to slips. The countdown continued.
Next in line was Harbhajan Singh, to become Murali’s 799th scalp. The milestone was inching close, and everyone waited in anticipation. Probably, even the Indian team could sense the inevitable, even if they didn’t want it to happen.
But Murali was destined for greatness. Not that 799 wickets would have troubled his stature, but he deserved 800. With the delivery taking the edge of Ojha’s bat, it was all done.
From legends to another legend 🙌
— SunRisers Hyderabad (@SunRisers) July 22, 2021
Murali completed his Test career with a wicket on his final delivery. To date, he is the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, far away from James Anderson at 617. With the Englishman’s career also at the fag end, it seems the Lankan legend is going to rule the charts for a long time now.