Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene on Monday hailed Muttiah Muralitharan as the greatest-ever spinner after another match-winning performance in the first Test against South Africa.
The 34-year-old spin wizard picked up a match haul of 10-172 as South Africa were thrashed by an innings and 153 runs to concede the lead in the two-match series.
Muralitharan grabbed 6-131 as the tourists, 587 runs behind on the first innings, were bowled out for 434 in their second knock after lunch on the fifth day at the Sinhalese Sports Club.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Murali is the greatest spinner ever," said Jayawardene, who was named man of the match for the fourth highest Test score of 374 in Sri Lanka's innings.
"These were difficult conditions to bowl in. It was very hot and humid and the wicket was getting slower, slower and slower as the match progressed.
"Yet Murali bowled 64 overs in the second innings and just kept probing the batsmen. He is so hungry for wickets.
"I am certain he would have been named man of the match if I had not got that big score or the record stand."
Sri Lanka had piled up 756-5 declared in their first innings with Jayawardene sharing a world record partnership of 624 with Kumar Sangakkara (287) for the third wicket.
The batting feast came after South Africa were dismissed for 169, their lowest total against Sri Lanka, on the opening day.