Aussies made my job tougher: Murali

Published: Monday, November 19, 2007, 12:15 [IST]
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Australia's second-innings' declaration here Monday means Muttiah Muralitharan will not have the satisfaction of surpassing Shane Warne's Test wicket record in the Aussie's backyard.

Australian skipper Ricky Ponting set Sri Lanka an improbable 507 runs to win the second Test in Hobart and square the two-match series after declaring his team's second innings at 210 for two before lunch on Monday's fourth day.

Before the series Ponting expressed a desire for the off-spinner with the unusual action to leave Australia without overhauling Warne's Test wicket-taking record of 708.

Muralitharan will now chase the five wickets he needs to pass Warne's record in this month's home Test series against England.

It has been a frustrating series for Muralitharan, who was mauled by the Australian batsmen and received only minimal support from his fellow bowlers.

In his three bowling innings of the series the 35-year-old spinner took 2-170, 1-140 and 1-90, leaving him with 4-400 at a profligate cost of 100 runs a wicket.

That contrasts with his 115-Test career bowling average of 21.77.

"In Brisbane I thought I bowled well but the batsmen played well. Sometimes it happens," Muralitharan said.

"You can't do much else but put it in the right places. Some days it works. That's the way a career goes."

Muralitharan was not the only Sri Lankan bowler to endure a disappointing time Down Under.

Paceman Farveez Maharoof only bowled 23 overs and then sat out the remainder of the second Test with an ankle injury, while the other pacemen -- Dilhara Fernando, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga -- made little impression in the two Tests.

The Australians amassed a total of 1,303 runs for the loss of 11 wickets in the two Tests -- 118 runs per wicket.

In Australia, Muralitharan has claimed 12 wickets overall for 905 runs in his five Tests at 75.42.

"We played him very well," Ponting said after the first Test of Muralitharan.

"I knew that if we played him well that we would go a long way to having our noses in front right the way through the series."

Second-innings centurion Kumar Sangakkara said Monday it wasn't the end of the world for Muralitharan not to get the record in Australia.

"We've always maintained that, if in the course of the Test series, Murali got to 708 that would be fantastic, that would probably be a perfect tour for us if we could have also won a game," Sangakkara said.

"We're disappointed for him, he's disappointed himself, but it's not the end of the world for Murali, he's got many more years of Test cricket to go.

"He's got three Tests against England coming up so the record for him is a given.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't do it on Australian soil. That would have been the ideal way for him to achieve it but that's the way the game goes."

After Muralitharan's 1-140 in the first innings in Hobart, his captain Mahela Jayawardene spoke up for the star bowler.

"It is a tough place to come here and perform, everyone knows that. Australia have been the number one team for the last 10 years," he said.

"When you come here, you challenge yourself.

"Murali has found it difficult to pick wickets up purely because these guys are playing good cricket and they do play him pretty well. But Murali has taken 700 wickets.

"It doesn't matter where he takes those wickets, that fact remains, so the due recognition for him will be given."

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