GALLE, (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan needs just eight wickets in his final test appearance to become the first player to reach the 800-mark but Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has no intention of making it easy for him.
The first test between Sri Lanka and India, which starts today, marks Muralitharan’s farewell to test cricket and the 38-year-old goes into the game with 792 test wickets.
“We’ll try to make it tough for him because the kind of cricket that he has played he has always made it tough for the batsmen to score runs,” said Dhoni.
“In the same way, the batsmen are getting an opportunity not to let him get 800 wickets. If we don’t make it tough for him then we are not doing justice to his talent.”
Galle Stadium curator Jayananda Warnaweera, who bowled with Muralitharan for Sri Lanka in the early 1990’s, ruled out any chance of producing a turning pitch to suit the world’s leading international wicket taker.
“We want to have a good time with Murali on all five days so we have to prepare a good wicket to last that long,” said Warnaweera.
Galle is one of Muralitharan’s favourite venues having captured 103 wickets from 14 tests.
India, who have failed to win a test series in Sri Lanka since 1993-94, will be encouraged by the fact that on their last tour in 2008 their solitary test win was at Galle.
Opener Virender Sehwag scored a double century and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh took 10 wickets for 153.
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara rated Muralitharan as the greatest bowler of all time.
“All of you know of his records, what he has done, how he started, how long he’s played. I am a great believer in Murali and a great admirer of his ability,” said Sangakkara.
“In this modern day and age when cricketers are accused at various stages of being greedy, money hungry, not really thinking about country and the game, I think Murali stands out a shining example to the contrary. He’s a man whose value you can’t put a price on.”