Highlighting the greatness of Muttiah Muralitharan, former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara revealed what the spin legend had said before the last Test of his career where he had taken his Test wicket tally to the momentous figure of 800.
Muralitharan was still eight wickets shy of the landmark before his last Test which was the opener of the three-match series against India.
However, such was the confidence of Muralitharan that he decided to announce his retirement before that match and ended up picking the required number of wickets in his last match against India, said Sangakkara to Ravichandran Ashwin in the latest episode of Reminisce with Ash Instagram series.
“He was 8 wickets away from 800. 800 Test wickets, as we all know is an incredible amount. He said he wanted to retire in the India series and I was the captain. I sat with the selectors and said, he wants to retire after the 1st Test. It’s not going to happen. We got to get him to get those 8 wickets and retire. So we called Murali into a meeting,” the former left-handed batsman said.
“I said ‘Murali, we know you like taking up challenges. But think of it this way. It’s a tragedy if you come so close and don’t get your 800. So you can play the 1st Test, and then if you are too tire or have a niggle, take the 2nd Test off and you come back for the 3rd Test. Or you can take 2 Tests off and come back for the next series.
“Murali looked at us and said ‘You know what? That is not going to work for you or for me. I have always loved challenges and if I am supposed to be the best spinner, I should be able to take 8 wickets at Galle against any side. And if I take 8 wickets, I am not just going to get my 800, we are going to win this Test match as well. If I can’t get it, I can’t get it. So this is my last Test. Thank You very much, I am going to take 8 wickets.’ I was seated then and I was thinking, that’s the kind of champion the guy was,” the former wicketkeeper-batsman further said.