Colombo: Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan`s swansong appearance on home soil could not have been better as he scalped a wicket of his last ball in international cricket, a similar feat that happened in his final Test, in the World Cup semi-final on Tuesday.
Muralitharan had Scott Styris LBW off the final ball of his 10th over to finish with two for 42 after earlier dismissing Jesse Ryder for 19 in front of a capacity 35,000 spectators who turned up to watch his last hurrah at home.
He has taken 534 wickets in 349 ODIs to add to his 800 Test wickets from 133 matches, both world records.
Interestingly, Muralitharan had achieved a similar feat in his last Test when he dismissed India`s Pragyan Ojha in Galle in July last year with his last ball of the five-day format.
"The same thing happened with me in Test cricket," said Muralitharan.
"Playing your last match in your country is emotional. When I played my last Test and took eight wickets it was very emotional," he said.
The 38-year-old had already announced that he will retire from international cricket after the World Cup, the final of which will take place in Mumbai on Saturday.
With the two wickets today, Muralitharan ended with 68 World Cup wickets, three short of Australian paceman Glenn McGrath`s record of 71.
The wily spinner, one of the most controversial cricketers of his generation, thanked his fans and countrymen for their support in his 19-year career.
"I`d like to thank them for supporting me for such a long time, in good times and bad times. Hopefully they have enjoyed my cricket and hopefully whatever final matches I will play I`ll make them happy," said an emotional Muralitharan.
Muralitharan made his debut in ODIs in August 1993 against India at the same R Premadasa Stadium where he is playing his last international match on home soil. He made his Test debut against Australia, also at the R Premadasa Stadium, in August 1992.
Muralitharan, who was declared fit just before the match today after suffering injury earlier in the tournament, had said that he would be available for Indian Premier League IV starting from April 8 for Kochi Tuskers Kerala.
Muralitharan is one of the most successful bowlers in the history of the game but controversies were an integral part of his career. He had the world cricket debating about his unorthodox and weird 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 Darrel Hair.
The ICC recommended a biomechanical analysis at the University of Western Australia and concluded that his action created the `optical illusion of throwing`.
He was charged with suspected action twice later – in 1998-99 and 2004 -- but cleared on both occasions.