COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan became the highest wicket-taker in one-day internationals after claiming his 503rd against India in Colombo on Thursday. Muralitharan equalled Wasim Akram’s 502 wickets in the third one-dayer on Tuesday when he snared Yuvraj Singh. He moved clear of the former Pakistan fast bowler when Gautam Gambhir edged a ball to wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara.
Muralitharan, 36, is also the world’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, with 769 in 125 matches to date. “I am very proud and happy to have achieved this record,” he said after India’s innings had finished with the visitors making 332-5. “I would like to dedicate it to my parents and family who have always been there for me through good times and bad.”
Wasim, who took his 502 wickets in 356 matches before quitting international cricket in 2003, paid tribute to Muralitharan, who passed him in his 328th ODI. “Muralitharan is a great bowler and he deserves the record, which was there to be broken,” he said. “At times I jokingly told him not to play one-day cricket, so that my record would remain intact, but he is relentless.
“If he continues to play for another two or three years, he will cross 1,000 in Tests and 600 in ODIs, which will be tough to break for anyone else.”India have an unassailable 3-0 lead in the current one-day series, and Murali struggled to make an impact in the fourth match.
But the wicket he needed finally came from the first ball of his final over as Gambhir, on 150, tried to square cut. Muralitharan eventually finished his 10 overs with figures of 1-66. Gambhir’s career-best total off 147 balls, including 14 fours and a six, was supplemented by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 94 off 96.
The pair made 188 off 184 balls for the second wicket, and Gambhir and Suresh Raina (49 not out) added 103 off 75 deliveries. Dhoni’s decision to bat first after winning the toss and promote to number three paid off despite India losing opener Virender Sehwag in the third over. Paceman Nuwan Kulasekara struck when Sehwag (5) drove hard but Sanath Jayasuriya took a two-handed diving catch at mid-off.
Dhoni was dropped on 92, but fell to the next delivery as Dilhara Fernando took a head-high one-handed catch off Jayasuriya’s bowling. Sri Lanka rallied briefly through Kulasekara who clean bowled Singh and Yusuf Pathan with successive deliveries. India piled up 80 runs in the last 10 overs, while Kulasekara (3-63) was the pick of Sri Lanka’s bowlers. Play was halted temporarily in the 18th over of the hosts’ innings when Dhoni took his team off the field after an object was thrown from the crowd.-SANA