Sri Lankan spin wizard Muttiah Muraitharan, the world’s leading wicket-taker and one of the finest exponents of spin bowling, announced his retirement from Test cricket, bringing an end to a glittering career spanning 18 years.

The first Test against India in Galle, beginning on July 18, will be the last game for Muralitharan, who has taken an amazing tally of 792 wickets in 132 Tests and 515 wickets in 337 ODIs.

Although Murali will no longer play after the first match of the three-Test series, he has kept open the option of playing the 2011 ODI World Cup, to be co-hosted by Sri Lanka along with India and Bangladesh.

“World’s leading wicket-taker and champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has decided to retire from Test cricket after the first Test in Galle against India,” a statement by Sri Lanka Cricket said.

“Muralitharan has had discussions with the national selectors, Sri Lankan Cricket officials and has had the blessings his excellency Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse and the Minister of Sports C B Ratnayake,” the statement added.

Cricket website Cricinfo however said that the wily off-spinner was contemplating retirement from all forms of the game.

The off-spinner, who was called for throwing by a few umpires during his illustrious career, has been one of the most talked about players in contemporary cricket.

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