Muttiah Muralitharan's goal of becoming first-ever cricketer to take 800 test wickets in his last appearance promises an exciting start to the three-match Test series between Sri Lanka and India.
India has vowed not to let him have it easy in the match starting on Sunday. It will also looking to break Sri Lanka's domination at home Tests, having lost the series 1-2 in their last two tours in 2001 and 2008.
The 38-year-old Muralitharan, who is the most prolific wicket taker in cricket, plays his 133rd match at Galle International Stadium. He is eight wickets short of taking 800.
Muralitharan told reporters earlier this month after announcing his retirement that reaching the 800 mark and winning the match are the targets for his final game.
Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said that best tribute his team could pay him would be to have a good match. "As a team, the best we can give Murali is to make sure that we don't get overwhelmed, get too carried away by what's happening around us," Sangakkara told reporters on Saturday.
Sangakkara said he is confident that the team will win if Muralitharan takes his eight wickets.
"Murali bowled excellently today in the nets, he is adjusting very well to Galle," he said. "he loves this wicket...his aim is to win this match for Sri Lanka."
Galle has been Muralitharan's favorite hunting ground, where he has taken 103 wickets in 14 matches with an average of 18. But India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said earlier that his team is determined to make it difficult for Muralitharan, insisting that challenging him only justifies his talents.
Muralitharan made his Test debut in 1992 against Australia in Colombo and has since taken 22, 10-wicket hauls. He has taken five wickets in a Test innings on a record 66 occasions. Both teams have played 32 Test matches against each other with India winning 13 and Sri Lanka five.