India in Sri Lanka 2008-09 January 27, 2009

Jayawardene eagerly awaits Murali's milestone

Passing the baton: Muttiah Muralitharan stands on the threshold of claiming the world record from Wasim Akram © AFP

Muttiah Muralitharan, with 500 ODI victims, starts the first game against India in Dambulla needing three wickets to overtake Wasim Akram and become the highest wicket-taker. Murali, 36, also holds the Test record with 769 wickets from 125 matches.

"We will be very happy once he [Muralitharan] gets the record. It is another milestone for him and another one for Sri Lankan cricket," Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene said. He said Murali's secret of success is "pure hard work, commitment, the willingness to win matches and to compete against the best in the world."

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was equally appreciative. "I've seen his career graph and he has been very consistent. He is a champion bowler," Dhoni said. "As far as this series is concerned we know that he will reach that mark. We will play as we played him in the last series."

Jayawardene praised Murali's resilience in getting close to Akram's record, set in 2003.

"It is difficult for me to put it in words. Everyone knows the amount of hard work he has put in over the last 16 years. He has gone through a lot of hardship. Probably in a few games or even tomorrow he might hold both the records in Tests and one-dayers. That's an amazing effort for someone who started out as a fast bowler and then turned into an offspinner."