Murali fails to weave magic in ODI swansong

Last Updated: Apr 03, 2011, 15:52 PM IST

Mumbai: There was no dramatic finish to the illustrious career of Muttiah Muralitharan as he went wicket-less in the World Cup final against India which marks an end to his international career.

Muralitharan had taken his 800th Test wicket against India in his last Test match and there was expectation that he may play a dramatic role in the World Cup final on Saturday but that was not to be as he failed to grab any wicket.

One of the finest and at the same time controversial spinners of all time, the 38-year-old off-spinner walked into sunset after an illustrious 19-year career as Sri Lanka lost to India by six wickets last night.

Muralitharan has already quit Test cricket with a record 800 wickets, his last match coming against India at Galle last year in his 133rd match. He had announced retirement from international cricket after this World Cup.

The diminutive bowler made his Test debut in August 1992 against Australia in Colombo while he cut his teeth in ODI cricket against India in August 1993 in Colombo.

He got a wicket in the last ball of his Test career -- that of Indian tail-ender Pragyan Ojha -- with which he became the first and only bowler to take 800 wickets in Tests.

But today against India, his 350th ODI, he was ineffective in his eight overs as he went wicketless while conceding 39 runs.

He ended his ODI career with 534 wickets.

Sri Lanka`s defeat meant that Muralitharan was deprived of the opportunity to quit international cricket in grand style though he was one of the members of the 1996 World Cup-winning squad under the captaincy of Arjuna Ranatunga.

Muralitharan was playing in his fifth World Cup and he ended as the second highest wicket taker in the quadrennial showpiece with 68 wickets, behind Australian fast bowler Glenn McGrath.

He has an economy rate of 3.92 and his best ODI bowling figures stand at seven for 30. He has taken five wickets in ODIs 10 times.

Muralitharan has also taken 13 wickets from 12 Twenty20 International matches he played from 2006 to 2010.

He played for Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings for three years and will turn up for Kochi Tuskers Kerala this season starting April 8.

The off-spinner, who was called for throwing by a few umpires during his illustrious career, has been one of the most talked-about players in contemporary cricket with controversies being an integral part of his career.

He had the world cricket debating about his unorthodox bowling action.

Very few cricketers have polarised opinion like Muralitharan. For many, he is among the greatest to ever spin a ball but to some he is a cheat, a chucker who rose to fame through an illegitimate bowling action.

Right from the beginning of his career, his action came under the scanner and three years after making his debut, he was called for throwing during the 1995-96 Australia tour by umpire Darrell Hair.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) recommended a biomechanical analysis at the University of Western Australia and concluded that his action created the `optical illusion of throwing`.

The matter did not end there and he was again charged with suspect action in the 1998-99 Australia tour and this time Ross Emerson had doubts about it.

Muralitharan was sent for further tests in Perth and England and was cleared again. He faced the same charges in 2004 but the Sri Lankan kept on taking wickets and in the same year overtook West Indies` Courtney Walsh`s 519-wicket mark to become the highest wicket-taker in Test history.

Former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi has been one of his most strident critics and had once described him as a "monster created by the ICC".

Bedi had always maintained that Muralitharan`s `doosra` was an illegal delivery and had recently even gone to the extent of suggesting to the ICC that the `doosra` should be banned from international cricket as it was impossible to bowl it without bending the arms.

Muralitharan had an enthralling battle for supremacy with Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne as both kept re-writing record after record.

Warne retired with 708 scalps and Muralitharan overtook him in December 2007 against England at his home ground in Kandy.

Muralitharan achieved the grand double of being the highest wicket-taker in Tests as well as one-dayers when he went past Wasim Akram`s ODI record of 502 wickets in 2009.

PTI