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‘Just try to whack one’ – When Murali asked Ishant to become his 800th Test wicket

by Wisden Staff 2-minute read

Muttiah Muralitharan, while in conversation with R Ashwin on YouTube, recalled the story behind his 800th wicket in Test cricket, which came against India in his last Test in 2010.

Starting the match at 792 wickets, Murali took a giant step towards the 800-wicket mark with a five-for in the first innings of the Galle Test on India’s tour to Sri Lanka in 2010.

He moved ever closer to the mark with the wickets of Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh in the second innings but the last-wicket partnership between Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha extended his wait.

So anxious was Murali that, he revealed, he implored Ishant Sharma, who ultimately remained unbeaten, to “whack one and get out” and become his 800th wicket.

Ishant refused, but thankfully for Murali, Pragyan Ojha nicked one to Mahela Jayawardene and he finished with 800 wickets – the most by a bowler in Test history.

“Fourteen overs were left,” Murali told Ashwin. “Good time since Malinga got injured and left, otherwise, he would have bowled. He was bowling quick and took five wickets in the second innings. So he was injured and went. And Rangana Herath was bowling from the other end and even he tried hard to take the wicket. But we had plenty of time.

“I didn’t talk to Pragyan Ojha. During the water break I spoke to Ishant Sharma and told him, ‘Ishant, you have been around for too long. Just try to whack one and get out. You are the last wicket. So staying around is not going to change things. Nor are you scoring runs. At least give me my 800th wicket’.

“He said no way he was going to do that. It was luck that I got Pragyan out.”

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