DateLine: 7th May 2009
Muttiah Muralitharan is one of the most successful bowlers in the game and the greatest player in Sri Lanka's history. From a open-chested action, his chief weapons are the big-spinning off-break, the top-spinner, one of which goes straight on and the other which spins in the opposite direction to his stock ball. His flexible wrist guarantees him turn on any surface. Muraliís career has been beset with controversy from the start. There were doubts about his action soon after his debut against the Australians in 1993 and then he was called for throwing while touring Australia in 1995-96, in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne by Darrel Hair. He was cleared by the ICC after biomechanical analysis at the University of Western Australia and at the University of Hong Kong in 1996. They concluded that his action created the 'optical illusion of throwing'.
On the field, Murali continued to pick up wickets by the bucket load. Some of his most stunning efforts were his duel with the Australians in 2004 and his eight-wicket haul at Trent Bridge in 2006 which produced a famous series-levelling win against England. He picked up 23 wickets in the 2007 World Cup. Murali became the second player to 700 Test wickets. He passed Warne's Test record of 708 wickets against England in December 2007, on his home ground in Kandy. He achieved the grand double of being the highest wicket-taker in ODIs as well when he went past Wasim Akram's record of 502 wickets in 2009.