Rain threatens Murali's Test finale

Updated: 17 July 2010 10:42 IST

Muttiah Muralitharan was geared up to bowl for the last time in the first Test against India, but bad weather threatened to disrupt his swansong.

Rain threatens Murali's Test finale

Colombo:

Sri Lanka's world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan was geared up to bowl for the last time in the first Test against India from Sunday, but bad weather threatened to disrupt his swansong.

The prolific off-spinner, 38, will retire from Test cricket after the opening contest of the three-match series at the Galle International Stadium, in which he needs eight more scalps to reach the 800-wicket mark.

Heavy rain on Saturday afternoon forced the ground staff to cover the entire field and similar bad weather has been forecast on all five days of the match.

Muralitharan enters his 133rd Test with record hauls in both Test (792) and one-day cricket (515) and looking to spearhead Sri Lanka to victory over the world number one team.

Sri Lanka's favourite cricket son said he was as nervous going into Sunday's match as he was when he made his debut against Australia in 1992.

"It does not matter how many games you play, you still feel a little nervous before any Test match," he said. "But all that goes away after I have bowled a few overs.

"There is obviously some pressure since this is my last Test, but I want to enjoy the moment. Getting to 800 will be a bonus, but our aim is to win the match."

Former Sri Lankan spinner Jayananda Warnaweera, who manages the Galle stadium, was confident Muralitharan will reach the 800-wicket mark on what appeared to be a good batting track.

"This is a good wicket," said Warnaweera. "We did not produce a turner because Murali does not need one to take wickets. He can grab a handful on any surface.

"We don't want the match to end before five days. There is a little bit of grass left to hold the pitch together. But any wicket will turn on the last two days."

Muralitharan has claimed 103 wickets in the 14 Tests he has played against all opposition at Galle, 13 of them against India in two matches.

Sri Lanka, currently fourth in Test rankings behind India, Australia and South Africa, are hoping to showcase their prowess in home conditions, where they have proved almost invincible.

The Sri Lankans have won eight of their last nine series at home, the only setback coming in 2006, when Pakistan won a two-match series 1-0.

India are looking for their first series win in Sri Lanka in 17 years, their lone success so far coming through a 1-0 verdict under Mohammad Azharuddin in 1993.

It is the third series between the two nations in a span of two years, Sri Lanka winning 2-1 at home in August, 2008, before India won the return leg in their own backyard 2-0.



Topics : Cricket Sreesanth
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