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Muralitharan says World Cup win would crown whole career
Jon Bramley | April 27, 2007
Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan is on the verge of becoming the most successful bowler in cricket history but said World Cup victory over Australia on Saturday would top all his achievements.
Despite being one of three surviving members of the Sri Lankan team which beat Australia in 1996 to lift the trophy, the master spinner said victory at the Kensington Oval would be all the more sweeter second time around at the age of 35.
"This could be the biggest moment in my life," he told a news conference on Thursday. "In '96, at the time I was very young and I didn't know much about it.
"Now I know what it takes to win a World Cup. Like so many others, this is my last World Cup so if we can win it would be the greatest moment in my life.
"Right now there are many individual records that I could get but that's individual. Team success is the most important thing."
Muralitharan has 674 test wickets and needs another 35 to pass Australian Shane Warne's mark of 708. He is also just 47 wickets short of Wasim Akram's one-day record of 502.
The Kandy-born off spinner is joint second behind fast bowler Glenn McGrath in the tournament list of wicket-takers with 23 victims.
McGrath, 37, has two more scalps than the Sri Lankan and his Australian countryman Shaun Tait going into his final match before retirement.
Muralitharan, opener Sanath Jayasuriya and paceman Chaminda Vaas are the three remaining members of the Sri Lankan side which won the tournament 11 years ago and all have hit top form in the 2007 edition.
"It is good for the youngsters who follow cricket in Sri Lanka," Muralitharan continued. "They can watch what we do and maybe become the next players.
"It helps the country more than anything else. We have a bad (political) situation going on in our country and this would help us achieve something different."
Sri Lanka has suffered a two-decade civil war between the government and Tamil Tigers which has claimed around 68,000 lives and intensified in the past year.
Jayasuriya insisted the Sri Lankans would not be cowed by the powerful Australians, who go into the match with a 28-match unbeaten streak stretching back to the 1999 World Cup.
Although favourites Australia are bidding for an unprecedented hat-trick of World titles and have recorded emphatic victories in all 10 matches they have played so far in the Caribbean, Muralitharan remained unperturbed.
"That will not affect our tactics at all," he said. "We have our own plans for Australia."
Photograph: Tim Wimborne/REUTERS