Muralitharan's 800 target promises exciting Test

Muttiah Muralitharan's goal of becoming the first-ever cricketer to take 800 Test wickets is expected to enliven, 3-match Test series between SL and India.

updated: July 17, 2010 09:10 IST
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Galle, Sri Lanka:

Muttiah Muralitharan's goal of becoming the first-ever cricketer to take 800 Test wickets is expected to enliven an already highly anticipated, three-match Test series between Sri Lanka and India which starts Sunday.

India, looking to break a losing streak in Sri Lanka that dates back to 1993, promises that will be ready for Muralitharan and the rest of the Sri Lankan squad. India lost the last two Tests to Sri Lanka in 2008 and 2001.

The 38-year-old Muralitharan, who is the most prolific wicket taker in cricket, plays his 133rd match at Galle International Stadium. He is eight wickets short of taking 800.

Muralitharan told reporters earlier this month after announcing his retirement that reaching the 800 mark and winning the match are the targets for his final game.

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said that best tribute his team could pay him would be to have a good match.

"As a team, the best we can give Murali is to make sure that we don't get overwhelmed, get too carried away by what's happening around us," Sangakkara told reporters Saturday.

Sangakkara said he is confident that the team will win if Muralitharan takes his eight wickets.

"Murali bowled excellently today in the nets, he is adjusting very well to Galle," he said. "he loves this wicket...his aim is to win this match for Sri Lanka."

Galle has been Muralitharan's favorite hunting ground, where he has taken 103 wickets in 14 matches with an average of 18.

Muralitharan made his Test debut in 1992 against Australia in Colombo and has since taken 22, 10-wicket hauls. He has taken five wickets in a Test innings on a record 66 occasions.

India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said earlier that his team is determined to make it difficult for Muralitharan, insisting that challenging him only justifies his talents.

Dhoni said his team comes into the series well prepared, but he acknowledged the squad's depleted bowling attack could be a problem after it lost seam bowlers Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth to injuries. Strike spin bowler Harbhajan Singh is still not match fit after recovering from a flu, Dhoni said.

"He is a bit weak and that's what happens when you get a flu...we are hoping he will be 100 percent fit for the game," Doni said.

India's bowling will be led by Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel who are relatively inexperienced.

Both teams have played 32 Test matches against each other with India winning 13 and Sri Lanka five.