Game on: How Murali stumped them all
Although his decision challenged luck itself, Murali proved himself once again, for the last time.
Ever heard of the phrase 'go out with a bang'? It seems like whoever crafted this phrase did so after they witnessed Murali's last innings.
His matchless records, 800 Test wickets and 534 ODI wickets are what people remember of Muttiah Muralitharan. He created his own league in cricket - determined and fearless.
Sir Donald Bradman has been remembered for his laudable decision to retire when he was just four runs short of creating a batting average of 100. Averaging 99.4 in Test cricket - which is still the highest average in this format - his decision to announce his retirement, to date, surprises many.
The same sentiment was felt world over when Muttiah Muralitharan announced his retirement from Test cricket in 2010 before a match in which he required eight wickets to reach the formidable total of 800 Test wickets.
Against a team like India, who has a strong Test side, the chances of one bowler scoring eight wickets were slim at the very best.
For Murali, however no feat was impossible.
He took five wickets in very the first innings after bowling just 17 overs!
In the second innings, Lasith Malinga took five wickets, taking away threads of hope from Murali who required just three wickets to make his record.
However, undeterred, Murali bowled 44 .4 overs from a total of 115.4 overs and eventually took three wickets breaking all records!
The pressure of this match reached a boiling point when India was at 314-9 and Murali still needed a wicket to reach his record.
This is when the real drama began. Now, with 5.2 overs bowled between the last wicket, anything could have happened. Murali could have lost his last chance and would have been left with 799 wickets. This, though still a fantastic record, would have left a bitter-sweet taste to his retirement -just one wicket away from a perfect 800. Moreover, changing this decision to retire would have been in distaste.
With the pressure mounting, amidst nail-biting tension in the stadium, India were at 338-9 when he made his record in style; PP Ojha was caught in the slips on a ball bowled by the great Murali.
"A pleasure to witness this -it's a privilege to witness this," said the commentator replicating my exact sentiments.
This is a truly defining moment in cricket history; Murali is an example of self-confidence, buoyancy and fatalism.
Although his decision challenged luck, he proved himself once again, for the last time.
I will never forget that flash in his eyes that spoke of determination and focus as he bowled each delivery. Thank you Murali, for allowing us to witness such quality cricket.
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