06-17-2008, 11:32 PM
Murali eyeing 800 Test, 600 ODI wickets
Mumbai: The highest wicket-taker in Test cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan, is now eyeing 800 Test wickets and 600 One-Day wickets before considering to hang up his boots.
"I still have some cricket left in me though I want to take one series at a time. I have a target of achieving 800 Test wickets and 600 One-Day wickets before I think of retiring in say a couple of years from now even though I would like to judge my performance after every two series and see how it goes," Murali, who has been chosen as Sri Lanka's tourism ambassador, told Cricketnext.com on the sidelines of a press conference here on Monday.
"Though I am confident of getting 800 wickets in Tests (he already has 735 wickets), I will have to work really hard to get to the 600-mark in the ODIs as I have 464 wickets so far. However, as there are more number of ODIs being played, I think I can still reach the target I have set before my retirement," he added.
Speaking about the Asia Cup in Pakistan and the forthcoming home series (three Tests and five ODIs) against India from July 23, Murali said he would be happy if Sri Lanka could win both comfortably as they have the players with experience to deliver the goods.
"Any professional player in any sport would like to win everything which comes his way and I am no different. We have a very good blend of youth and experience in our squad and can beat any team in the world if all of us play to our potential, and we are looking forward to the Asia Cup and the home series against India to prove a few points," the ace spinner said.
When asked to name the toughest side to bowl at, Murali named India ahead of even world champions Australia and tough opponents South Africa.
"Since the past couple of years, I have found bowling to Indian batsmen much tougher as all of them can play spin better than the Australian batsmen. Some of the Aussie batsmen are vulnerable to spin but that is not the case with the Indian batsmen. Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly and even the younger lot of players who played in the tri-series in Australia, are good players of spin bowling," he said.
"I have personally enjoyed playing against India more because you have to keep your concentration level high all the time as they are such good users of their feet against spinners. I have enjoyed bowling to Sachin Tendulkar the most as he can change the complexion of a match very fast and it has been a real challenge for me while bowling against him," he added.
"As long as both of us keep playing international cricket, our rivalry will be watched very keenly especially after he becomes the leading run-getter in Tests, as a battle royal between the highest Test wicket-taker and the highest Test run-getter will always be an interesting contest anywhere in the world," Murali observed.
Stressing that the switchover from Twenty20, where he played for runners-up Chennai under Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Indian Premier League (IPL), to One-Day cricket was not tough, Murali said he was looking forward to the Asia Cup in Pakistan.
"Switching over from Twenty20 to ODI is no big deal as the basics remain the same and the strategy is quite similar. Only a few minor adjustments have to be made here and there. As far as Asia cup is concerned, we have a good chance of winning it as we will be going to Pakistan after a good rest. I think all the three teams – Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan – have equal chances of winning the Asia Cup and the team which handles pressure better on a particular day will come out trumps. So it should be a good tournament," Murali observed.
When asked about his rivalry with Sachin Tendulkar, Murali said he had great respect for the Indian batting icon and their rivalry is a healthy one as both respected each other.
"It is a big challenge to bowl to Sachin. Both of us are tough competitors. On his day, he will do well and on my day, I will do well. So at the end of the day everything evens out but the respect for each other will remain till the end and perhaps that is the beauty of this game and there will be no ill feelings at the end of the match but only admirations even for your opponent," he said.
"Last time around when I played against India in a Test series, I performed very well but Sachin and Laxman, perhaps two of the finest players against spin bowling, did not play due to injuries. I hope this time around both of them will be available for the home series because playing against the best and performing well is always a satisfying moment," Murali signed off.