A complete team-man and a very hard working cricketer, says Sangakkara
Muttiah Muralitharan's last ODI delivery on home soil, in the 2011 ICC World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, was adorned by a wicket, stirring up memories of the spin legend's last ball in Test cricket which had also gained him a final victim — his 800th.
Skipper Kumar Sangakkara said that the iconic bowler deserved every bit of success, as also the ‘fairy tale endings' that brought him wickets in his last balls on home turf in the two formats.
“He needed eight wickets in his last Test to reach 800 and he did that. He got a wicket off his last ball tonight.
“Murali deserves these fairy tale endings because he has no ego and no pretences. He is a complete team man and a very hard working cricketer,” Sangakkara said.
“It was kind of overwhelming that he was playing his last game at home after coming out for Sri Lanka for so many years,” he added.
With the co-host suffering a miniature collapse in its chase against New Zealand, the captain said that Murali was padded up and set to enter the cauldron if another wicket fell.
“He has this uncanny ability to hit the ball, that's why he was in next”, the skipper explained.
Murali is Sri Lanka's leading bowler in the current tournament with 15 wickets. He is also three scalps away from equalling Glenn McGrath's record cumulative World Cup tally of 71 wickets.
The Lankan legend has one match to equal or surpass the Aussie and sign off in style on the biggest stage of all, in the final in Mumbai. Sangakkara said Murali was usually chirpy in the dressing room with cricket predictions and what not, but the off-spinner hadn't yet put his money on which team would emerge on top in what will be his third World Cup final.
“He is always talking in the dressing room, always telling us who's going to win and what's going to happen. But he hasn't said anything about the final yet.”