One of my greatest moments - Murali
Muttiah Muralitharan has said that retiring after taking his 800th wicket and helping Sri Lanka win his farewell Test, against India in Galle, was one of the greatest moments in his life. Murali's 800th was the last Indian wicket in the follow-on, after which Sri Lanka chased the target of 95 without losing a wicket.
"I am very happy that God has given me everything - eight wickets, a victory, basically everything. This is one of the greatest moments in my life, retiring this way," Murali said. "I am not emotional in a way, frankly, I am happy that I have done it. I trained really hard. Even last week, I trained hard to play in this Test match and take it very seriously."
Murali had to wait and toil for his 800th wicket, that of Pragyan Ojha, but he said the landmark was just a number and achieving it was not a high priority. "Eight hundred is only a number. We wanted to get the wickets quickly. You never know in Galle, with the weather, winning the match was the important thing," he said. "At that time I didn't think about it, but it came in the end. I wouldn't have minded if it didn't come. My only scare was when Lasith Malinga had to go off the field.
"I told my captain [Kumar Sangakkara] to somehow get the wickets. We knew the situation in Galle and had the match ended in a draw it would have been very sad. I badly wanted to win in my final Test. We all play for a win. At that moment we would have taken even a run out. It was hard work for the spinners. The wicket had something on it yesterday, and Malinga's magnificent yorkers made the difference."
Murali also said that he had quit Test cricket at the right time, with Sri Lanka having younger spinners rising through the ranks. "I have played for 18 years and I thought that there are three other good spinners in the side," he said. "They are 24-25 years old and I am 38. I thought it's better to give them a chance. I have nothing more to achieve and I thought this is the right time.
"I chose to finish my career at the end of the first Test because I know my knees are not going to last to bowl 50-60 overs. If I am there it will be four spinners and only two can play. I will be blocking the place of another young spinner."
Murali also had praise for the curator at Galle, Jayananda Warnaweera, and thanked him for helping make his farewell memorable. "Galle is one of my favourite grounds because there is always a result. Warnaweera prepares good wickets and we won the match in four days. He gave me a good farewell and the way he decorated the stadium was unbelievable."