Birthday special: Murali Muralitharan – Top five spells of the bowling wizard

The sheer magnitude of numbers that he generated in his career marks him out as an immortal legend. For more than a decade and a half, he was Sri Lanka’s bowling messiah. Muttiah Muralitharan accumulated staggering numbers with the ball and his legacy will live on for posterity.

He is the only man to take 800 wickets in Test cricket, and he is also the highest wicket-taker in ODIs (534) as well. As the bowling maestro gets ready to celebrate his 51st birthday today, let us take a look at the top 5 spells bowled by the legend in his career.

5) 5/9 vs New Zealand (ODIs)

In April 2002, Muttiah Muralitharan bowled 10 overs against New Zealand and gave away just 9 runs. The spin bowling icon also picked up 5 wickets as well. Muralitharan made the Kiwi batsmen appear clueless with his guile and magic. The Kiwis were restricted to a total of 218. In reply, the Sri Lankan side was shot out for 207 and went down to the Black Caps by just 11 runs.

4) 7/30 vs India (ODIs)

Muttiah Muralitharan bowled a devastating spell against the Indian side on 27th October 2000 at the Sharjah Cricket Ground to propel his side to victory. Batting first, Sri Lanka posted a challenging total of 294 on the board. For the Sri Lankan side, Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardene slammed centuries.

In reply, the Indian batsmen were undone by Muralitharan’s magic. The off-spinner picked up 7 wickets and gave away just 30 runs as the Indian side was bowled out for a total of just 226.

3) 8/70 vs England (Tests)

Muttiah Muralitharan sliced through the England batting line up in June 2006 at Nottingham. Sri Lanka batted first and posted a total of 231 runs on the board. England responded in the first innings with a total of 229. In the second innings, the visitors put up 322 runs on the board. And, that meant that England needed to chase down 325 runs for victory.

And, that is when they were trapped by the sorcery of Muralitharan. Out of the 10 England wickets, Muralitharan picked up 8 of them, as the hosts were bowled out for just 190.

2) 8/87 vs India (Tests)

The Indian side felt the wrath of Muttiah Muralitharan in August 2001 at Colombo. India batted first and posted a total of 234. And, it was Muralitharan who inflicted most of the damage with the ball. The Sri Lankan bowled 34.1 overs, gave away just 87 runs and picked up a whopping 8 wickets. Sri Lanka replied with a mammoth total of 610, with as many as 4 of their willow wielders slamming centuries. In the second innings too, the Indian batting line up came a cropper. The visitors were bowled out for a total of 299, as Sri Lanka walloped the Indian side by an innings and 77 runs.

1) 9/65 vs England (Tests)

The England side lost the match at the Kennington Oval in spite of scoring 445 runs in their first innings. And, it was mainly due to Muralitharan’s match-winning spell with the ball. In reply to England’s 445, the Sri Lankan side posted a total of 591 on the board. Batting icon Sanath Jayasuriya slammed a double century.

But in the second innings, the England batsmen had no clue on how to tackle the menace of Muralitharan. The spinner recorded figures of 9/65 in the second innings and England were bowled out for just 181. Sri Lanka romped home with 10 wickets to spare. Needless to say, Muralitharan was also awarded the Player of the Match award.