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Murali bids farewell to international cricket

Last updated on: April 3, 2011 16:45 IST

Image: Muttiah Muralitharan
Photographs: Getty Images

One of the finest spinners of all-time, Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan bowed out of international cricket as the highest wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs though he failed to make an impact in his swansong match -- the World Cup final against India.

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The 38-year-old off-spinner walked into sunset after an illustrious 19-year career as Sri Lanka lost to India by six wickets.

Muralitharan has already quit Test cricket with a record 800 wickets, his last match coming against India at Galle last year in his 133rd match. He had announced his decision to retire from international cricket after this World Cup.

The diminutive bowler made his Test debut in August 1992 against Australia in Colombo while he cut his teeth in ODI cricket against India in August 1993 in Colombo.

He got a wicket with the last ball of his Test career -- that of Indian tail-ender Pragyan Ojha -- with which he became the first and only bowler to take 800 wickets in Tests.

But, on Saturday against India, his 350th ODI, he was ineffective in his eight overs and went wicket-less while conceding 39 runs.

He ended his ODI career with 534 wickets

Second highest wicket-taker in the World Cup

Image: Muttiah Muralitharan

Sri Lanka's defeat meant that Muralitharan was deprived of the opportunity to quit international cricket in grand style though he was one of the members of the 1996 World Cup-winning squad under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga.

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Muralitharan was playing in his fifth World Cup and he ended as the second highest wicket taker in the quadrennial showpiece with 68 wickets, behind Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath.

He has an economy rate of 3.92 and his best ODI bowling figures stand at seven for 30. He has taken five wickets in ODIs 10 times.

Muralitharan has also taken 13 wickets from 12 Twenty20 International matches he played from 2006 to 2010.

He played for Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings for three years and is expected to turn up for Kochi Tuskers Kerala this season starting April 8.

Controversies were an integral part of his career

Image: Muttiah Muralitharan and Darrel Hair

The off-spinner, who was called for throwing by a few umpires during his illustrious career, has been one of the most talked-about players in contemporary cricket with controversies being an integral part of his career. He had the world cricket debating about his unorthodox and weird bowling action.

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Very few cricketers have polarised opinion like Muralitharan. For many, he is among the greatest to ever spin a ball but to some he is a cheat, a chuckler who rose to fame through an illegitimate bowling action.

Right from the beginning of his career, his action came under the scanner and three years after making his debut he was called for throwing during the 1995-96 Australia tour by umpire Darrel Hair.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) recommended a biomechanical analysis at the University of Western Australia and concluded that his action created the 'optical illusion of throwing'.

The matter did not end there and he was again charged with suspected action in the 1998-99 Australia tour and this time Ross Emerson had doubts about his action.

Murali was sent for further tests in Perth and England and was cleared again. He faced the same charges in 2004 but the Sri Lankan kept on taking wickets and in the same year he overtook West Indies' Courtney Walsh's 519-wicket mark to become the highest wicket-taker in Test history.

Murali overtook Warne to become the highest wicket-taker in Tests

Image: Muttiah Muralitharan

Former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi has been one of his most strident critics and had once described him as a "monster created by the ICC".

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Bedi had always maintained that Murali's 'doosra' was an illegal delivery and had recently even gone to the extent of suggesting to the ICC that the 'doosra' should be banned from international cricket as it was impossible to bowl it without bending the arms.

Murali had an enthralling battle for supremacy with Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne as both kept re-writing record after record.

Warne retired with 708 scalps and Murali overtook him in December 2007 against England at his home ground in Kandy.

Murali achieved the grand double of being the highest wicket-taker in Tests as well as one-dayers when he went past Wasim Akram's ODI record of 502 wickets in 2009.