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Muralitharan gets to 600 Test wickets

Murali's journey in numbers

S Rajesh

March 10, 2006

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Muttiah Muralitharan: 600 up, and many more to go © Getty Images

The two-Test series against Bangladesh has been time for Muttiah Muralitharan to pile up one milestone after another. The first Test was his 100th, during which he also became the first bowler to take 1000 international wickets; then, on the third day of the second Test at Bogra, he became only the second bowler - after Shane Warne - to go past the 600-wicket barrier in Tests. While Warne needed 126 matches to get to the landmark, this is only Murali's 101st Test, an indication of just how prolific he has been.

As the table below indicates, Murali has been improving his stats incessantly since starting out more than 13 years ago. His first 100 wickets took him 27 matches; since then, none of the other 100-wicket milestones have required more than 16 matches. His last 100 wickets took him just 14 Tests, during which period he took eight five-fors.

Murali's progression to 600
Wickets Matches Average 5/ 10-for
100 27 31.49 6/ 0
200 42 26.90 16/ 2
300 58 25.17 24/ 5
400 72 23.53 33/ 10
500 87 22.89 42/ 13
600 101 22.35 50/ 14

Murali arrived on the scene as a big-spinning offbreak bowler, but since his early days he has added plenty of bows to his armoury, which have made him a far more potent bowler. In his first 50 matches, he got his wickets at less than five per Test; in his next 51, that has gone up to more than seven.

Two halves to Murali's career
Wickets Average 5/ 10-fors
First 50 Tests 245 26.36 18/ 3
Last 51 Tests 355 19.58 32/ 11

As his career summary shows, Murali has performed well against most sides. The only teams against whom he averages more than 30 are Australia and India, against whom he played most of the matches early in his career. He has also been at the forefront of most Sri Lankan wins, with 297 wickets at an incredible average of 15.48. If Sri Lanka win at Bogra - as they seem likely to do - then Murali will become only the third bowler, after Warne and Glenn McGrath - to take 300 wickets in victories. Currently Warne leads the way with 461 such wickets, while McGrath has 393.

Murali the matchwinner
Tests/ Wkts Average 5/ 10-for
In wins 37/ 297 15.48 27/ 11
In draws 30/ 129 26.84 10/ 2
In defeats 33/ 167 31.19 12/ 1

Among bowlers with at least 150 wickets in wins, only Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan have a better average.

Best averages in wins
Bowler Wins/ Wkts Average 5/ 10-for
Richard Hadlee 22/ 173 13.07 17/ 8
Imran Khan 26/ 155 14.50 11/ 6
Muttiah Muralitharan 37/ 297* 15.48 27/ 11
Malcolm Marshall 43/ 254 16.79 17/ 4
Allan Donald 33/ 187 16.80 14/ 3
Curtly Ambrose 44/ 229 16.87 13/ 3
* Excludes the Bogra Test against Bangladesh

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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