Muralitharan’s 8-wicket challenge to Sangakkara in his last Test
Former Sri Lanka spin Wizard, Muttiah Muralitharan is regarded as a legend of spin bowling in the cricket. The former spinner retired from cricket with 800 Test wickets milestone. The story behind his final Test showcases how confident the bowler was about his abilities.
Sri Lanka were hosting a three-match Test series against India in 2010, and the bowler decided that he wants to announce his retirement after the first Test series.
Muralitharan was still eight wickets away from completing the 800-wickets milestone before the last match. Interestingly, picking up eight wickets against Indian team, who were good at playing spin, in a single Test match was a tough ask to play against him.
“He was 8 wickets away from 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, who was Sri Lanka’s captain in that match, told Ravichandran Ashwin.
“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,”
“’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,” the former left-handed batsman further said.
At the end, five wickets in the first innings, and then three more in the 2nd innings after Sri Lanka enforced follow-on on India, ensured Muralitharan’s climb to the mountain 800 wickets milestone. Sri Lanka won the match comfortably by 10 wickets and Muralitharan retired with massive applause from his teammates, opposition players and the fans alike.