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July 14, 2007
Muttiah Muralitharan, who became only the second bowler in Test history to take 700 wickets, said that his main focus was not on breaking Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne's world record but for Sri Lanka to win the two-Test series in Australia later this year.
Sri Lanka's next Test assignment is against Australia in November and Murali who took 12 wickets in the third and final Test against Bangladesh at Kandy on Saturday said: "It's a big achievement taking 700 wickets. I knew anyway that I would get the 700 wickets. I want to go to Australia and try and win the series because we have never won one there. Also I have not taken five wickets in an innings in Australia. They are the No. 1 team in the world but we can also be better than them if we play to our strengths."
Muralitharan finished the three-Test series against Bangladesh with a haul of 26 wickets bringing him nine wickets closer to breaking Warne's world record of 708. "I think I can achieve a little bit more than the world record. I hope to play until the next World Cup in 2011 and the challenge is before I retire I am thinking of taking 1000 Test wickets," said the 35-year-old spinner.
He described today's victory by an innings and 193 runs as more special than taking 700 wickets. "If you are winning a match in less than 2 ½ days [taking into account disruption by rain] it is special. The way we batted and the way we bowled in the first innings was amazing. We played good cricket and didn't allow Bangladesh to raise their heads. We wanted to knock them off every time we bowled and batted. That's what we have done."
Sri Lanka captain Jayawardene praised his team's all-round performance. "When you perform to that level it is always tough for a team like Bangladesh to keep up. Credit should go to the whole team, the way we played, the way we executed our game plan was brilliant. We should not take anything away from them. I am surprised the way we finished the series especially today after two days of rain. Mainly the way we bowled in the first innings and scored 470 run in a day put pressure on Bangladesh," Jayawardene said.
Bangladesh coach Shaun Williams said that Sri Lanka had basically given them lesson on how to go about playing good Test cricket. "They allowed us nothing and that's what you expect from a top quality team. We don't have enough to challenge top-shelf Test teams. It was very difficult to get many positives out of this sort of result. We were inconsistent in our batting although there were some individual performances. There were good signs here and there. But there were only little things we can take back. We got a lot to learn from Sri Lanka cricket, the way they've gone about building a side," said Williams.
"Sri Lanka's got some superstars like Murali, Mahela and Sanga. The way they have built their A team and youth programme there's a lot to be learnt from that. It hasn't happened overnight. If Bangladesh cricket can learn from that then in time we can go forward," he added.
Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said his side would put up a better performance in the one-day series starting next week. "Playing Test cricket was very tough in Sri Lanka. We know Test cricket is very difficult because Sri Lanka is a very good side especially at home. I am very confident we will put up a better performance in the one-day series," he said.
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