Murali's journey in numbers
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 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.
|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.
|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.
|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|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo