Murali looks for a memorable end to his Indian adventure
Muttiah Muralitharan is the highest Test wicket taker of all time and it is highly unlikely that anyone in contemporary cricket or in the near future can even approach the world mark the champion Sri Lanka bowler would set before retiring.
The ace off-spinner, who has grabbed whopping 788 wickets to date from 131 Tests, is frustrated that he has been unable to make an impact in the ongoing three-Test series against India in which the visitors are trailing 0-1 going into the third and final match in Mumbai from December 2.
Image: Muttiah Muralitharan
'I can't bowl as much as those days'
The Kandy-born Muralitharan, at 37, in the autumn of his career that commenced in the early 1990s, has threatened to walk into the sunset before the 2011 World Cup in the sub-continent because he feels he's no longer the silent assassin of yore.
Muralitharan has already announced his intention to quit the highest form of the game after his country's series against the West Indies next year but has now indicated he may quit ODIs too before the mega-event.
"I am 37 years old and I can't bowl as much as those days because after 15-16 overs I get tired. But I will try and play a little bit of one-day cricket that's only 10 overs to bowl.
"If I find everything is not going well I might retire from both forms of the game before the World Cup," he told a Sri Lanka newspaper.
Image: Muttiah Muralitharan
A not so impressive record on Indian soil
His overall record in India in Tests is not very impressive, considering his stupendous performance in his long career during which he has grabbed 10 wickets in a match on 22 occasions and five wickets in an innings 66 times.
In total contrast are his returns in India, a meagre 36 wickets in 10 matches with a best of 7 for 100 at a high cost of plus-45 runs per wicket.
He has also not taken a 10-wicket haul in India.
This pales even against his modest record of 93 wickets in 20 Tests at home and away combined against India with an average of just under 33 per wicket, including two 10-wicket hauls at home.
Image: Muttaih Muralitharan
Even Warne struggled in India
But Muralitharan is not an isolated case as far as legendary spin bowlers coming a cropper against India in the latter's backyard is concerned.
Australian leg-spin legend Shane Warne has a similar poor record in India, having finished with only 34 out of his total haul of 708 wickets from the nine Tests he played in this country.
The final match in Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium, which is hosting a Test after more than three and a half decades, now offers the final chance to Muralitharan to redeem his record in India.
He is not expected to be part of the islanders' team when they return for their next series.
While Muralitharan, whose best visit to India was in 2005-06 when he took 16 wickets in three Tests, has not been able to trouble the Indian batsmen.
Image: Shane Warne
'Indians treated Warne and Murali with respect'
Former captain Dilip Vengsarkar has some explanation on this strange fact.
"Indian batsmen have been brought up on such wickets and against such bowlers. Warne and Murali are great bowlers but the Indians tended to treat them with respect," he said.
"The batsmen used to get after the others when they did not want to take chances against great bowlers like Richard Hadlee," said Vengsarkar who was the India captain in the 1988 series that his team finally won 2-1.
Image: Dilip Vengsarkar