Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Murali scales 800-wicket summit on last ball of Test career
July 22, 2010 - Some things are just written in the stars. They are bound to happen. It's destiny. A force of nature appears to be taking everything in a pre-decided direction. Human beings seem to be mere puppets in the hands of destiny.
This was one such moment, one such hour, one such session, one such day, one such Test match. Muttiah Muralitharan had already announced his retirement from Test cricket after the first Test at Galle on the India tour of Sri Lanka in 2010.
Before the Test began, Murali's wickets tally in Tests stood at 792. He was still the highest wicket-taker in Test cricket and would finish as the same. If he could take 8 more wickets in his final Test, he would reach where no man had ever reached before - 800 wickets in Test cricket.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara said before the match that if Murali took 8 wickets, Sri Lanka would go on to win, and this is exactly what happened.
Batting first, Sri Lanka got off to a good start with openers Tharanga Paranavitana and Tillakaratne Dilshan adding 55 runs. After Dilshan was dismissed, Sangakkara and Paranavitana had a 181-run partnership to knock out the gas of the Indian bowling attack. Both batsmen scored centuries.
40s from Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews swelled the score but it was the lower order contributions from Rangana Herath and Lasith Malinga that really pushed India on the back foot. Herath scored 80 off just 93 deliveries while Malinga, returning to Test cricket after 30 months, struck 64 off 75 balls as Sri Lanka declared for 520/8.
With day two washed out due to rain and India coming into bat only after tea in the last session of day 3, chances of the match getting drawn were quite high. By the time the day finished, India were in a decent position at 140/3 from 29.4 overs with Virender Sehwag nearing a century and VVS Laxman partnering him at the crease.
Magic happened on day four with Murali picking up his 67th and last 5-wicket haul in Test cricket as India were bowled out for just 276. Following on, the team went back to the safety of the pavilion at the end of the penultimate day, but not before losing half their team for 181.
When Lasith Malinga bowled MS Dhoni on a reverse swinging yorker on the morning of the last day, it seemed that Murali might not get an opportunity to reach the 800-wicket mark.
As luck would have it, the spinner dismissed Yuvraj Singh caught by Mahela Jayawardene and followed up by trapping Harbhajan Singh in front of the wickets. Laxman then shepherded the tail. There was a gap of almost 20 overs between the dismissals of Harbhajan Singh and Abhimanyu Mithun and that of Mithun and Laxman's run out.
As hopes of the 800-wicket peak began to die and Murali's worn body had already had too much, he bowled a flighted off break which Pragyan Ojha edged to Mahela Jayawardene. This was the 77th time that caught Jayawardene, bowled Murali appeared on a Test scoresheet.
Just like Richard Hadlee finished his Test career with a wicket off the last delivery, Murali became immortal in the annals of cricket history as he bid goodbye to Test cricket with 800 wickets. Sri Lanka chased the 95-run target in the last innings without loss within just 14.1 overs and won the match by 10 wickets.
Murali had taken 8 wickets in the match, a 5-wicket haul in the first innings, reached the magical figure of 800 Test wickets and picked up a wicket off his last delivery in Test cricket. Some things are just written in the stars.
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