‘Just try to whack one and get out’: When Muralitharan asked Ishant Sharma to give him 800th Test wicket
The off spinner was a mile ahead of Shane Warne by the time he decided to call it quits in July 2010. He was to play his last Test at Galle against India, which was the first match of the series.Updated: Aug 13, 2020 06:54 IST
Little over a decade ago, Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan retired from international cricket after becoming the first man in history to pick up 800 Test wickets. While Murali is the most prolific wicket-taker in international cricket across formats by a mile, he did struggle to pick up his last scalp in Test cricket. The off spinner was a mile ahead of Shane Warne by the time he decided to call it quits in July 2010. He was to play his last Test at Galle against India, which was the first match of the series.
Many were surprised as they expected Murali to play the entire series to give himself a good chance of picking up 8 wickets and become the first, and till date only, bowler to pick 800 Test wickets. But the wizard was challenging himself, one last time.
Sri Lanka batted first and they batted big. Then there was rain that washed away the entire second day. But Murali was not to be denied. He produced a magical spell to account for five Indian wickets in the first innings, the last 5-for of his magnificent career. It included the wickets of Tendulkar, Yuvraj and Dhoni.
India were asked to follow on and Lasith Malinga broke the back of India’s batting by picking up 5 wickets. VVS Laxman was looking to delay the inevitable as he strung together partnership with the lower order which frustrated the Lankans. When he was run out with India 9 wickets down, Muralitharan was stranded at 799, having picked up just 2 wickets in the innings.
It looked like it would be another of those imperfect endings but Murali managed to get the outside edge of Pragyan Ojha’s bat and it was his old mate Mahela Jayawardene who completed the catch to bring about one of cricket’s biggest individual records.
While talking about the last partnership between Ishant Sharma and Ojha, during a chat with Indian off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on the latter’s Youtube show DRS with Ash, the Lankan spin giant recalled a funny incident.
“During the water break I spoke to Ishant Sharma and told him ‘you have been around for too long. Just try to whack one and get out. You are the last wicket. So staying around is not going to change things. Nor are you scoring runs. At least give me my 800th wicket’.
“He said no way he was going to do that. It was luck that I got Pragyan out,” Murali said
Sri Lanka went on to win the match by 10 wickets as Muralitharan brought the curtains down on a memorable international career.