Australia v Sri Lanka, VB Series, Melbourne January 13, 2006

A bad day at the office for Murali

The 67 runs Muttiah Muralitharan conceded in the first VB Series match against Australia is his second-most expensive figures in ODIs

Muttiah Muralitharan: not a performance to remember © Getty Images

Even through their worst days on the field, Sri Lanka usually have one consolation: a tight ten-over spell by Muttiah Muralitharan, for whom conditions and assistance from the pitch seems to matter little. In the first match of the VB Series against Australia, though, the Sri Lankans didn't even have Murali's performance to fall back on. They got thrashed to the tune of 318 runs - which isn't that unusual in ODIs these days - but far more surprisingly, Murali returned figures of 10-1-67-0.

In all the spells he has bowled in his career, only once did he vanish for more runs - against Pakistan at Nairobi more than nine years ago, when he went for 73, but at least managed to pick up two wickets. Here, he wasn't even allowed that solace, and had it not been for a maiden over in his ninth, his figures would have looked even worse. Not surprisingly, Sri Lanka have lost all these matches - they look well on their way to defeat at Melbourne - and have conceded more than 300 in all but one of these games.

Murali's most expensive ODI spells
Versus Spell Venue and year Result
Pakistan 10-0-73-2 Nairobi, 1996 Lost by 82 runs
Australia 10-1-67-0 Melbourne, 2005-06 ?
New Zealand 10-1-62-1 Hamilton, 1995 Lost by 57 runs
Pakistan 10-0-61-1 Kimberley, 1998 Lost by 4 wickets
India 10-0-60-0 Taunton, 1999 Lost by 157 runs

It's interesting to note that Murali's top ten most expensive spells have all come overseas. The worst he performed at home was against Zimbabwe - when they used to be a force to reckon with - in 1998, when he conceded 55 from 10 overs.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo