68 days to go: Muralitharan's World Cup exploits

A summary of the World Cup's most successful spinner and second-leading wicket-taker.

Published: 23rd March 2019 10:25 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th May 2019 05:27 PM   |  A+A-

Former Sri Lanka cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan (File | AP)

Online Desk

'Pitched outside off and knocked the middle stumps out', only the wizardry of Muttiah Muralitharan could give that kind of a turn to the cricket ball. 

The Sri Lankan legend is the second highest wicket-taker in the World Cup history with 68 wickets from 40 games, the most by a spinner. He featured in five World Cups having played three finals and won one in 1996.

Here we take a look at off-spinner's five World Cup campaigns starting in 1996:

1996: When the Islanders reigned supreme

Murali started his World Cup journey against Zimbabwe and returned with figures of 1/37. In total, he picked seven wickets in the title-winning expedition that included an economical 1/31 in the finals against Australia. His bowling helped restrict Australia for 241 runs which the Lankans chased for the loss of just three wickets. 

ALSO READ | 96 days to go: Maiden hosts, maiden World Cup - A Sri Lankan fairytale 

1999: Dismal outing for the Lankans

Not the World Cup, either Sri Lanka or Muttiah would like to remember as both the player and the team had a poor show. Murali could scalp only five wickets from six matches, his least in all the World Cups. Sri Lanka finished fifth in Group A with just two wins from five games.

Murali's best performance came against South Africa where he restricted the run flow by claiming 3/25 in 10 overs. 

2003: Highest wicket-taking spinner

Muralitharan had a wicket-taking fest as he claimed 17 wickets in the tournament with the best coming off against Kenya. He claimed four wickets by giving away just 28 runs. 

He also had three-wicket spells against Bangladesh and India. With the wickets, he became the highest wicket-taking spinner in World Cup's history.

2007: The best of Murali

His best World Cup in terms of the number of wickets taken. Murali's 23 wicket exploits helped Sri Lanka make it to the finals against Australia. This time Sri Lanka ended on the losing side. 

During the tournament, Murali claimed two four-wicket hauls in consecutive matches with the best of 4/19 coming off against Ireland. In the very next match which was a semi-final, his 4 for 31 helped dismantle New Zealand for 208 runs handing Sri Lanka an 81-run victory.

En route, he had also claimed a couple of three-wicket hauls.

2011: The end of an era

Not the kind of signing-off Murali would have wanted, a defeat to India in the finals at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. The 'smiling assassin' showed his skills as he claimed 15 wickets in the tournament with 11 in the group stages itself. His best was against the Kiwis as he claimed 4/25 from 8 overs and helped bowl New Zealand out for 153 runs. 

When the two sides met again in the semi-finals, Murali picked two for 42 to take his team into the finals.

World Cup Summary:

Murali claimed 68 wickets, second only to Glenn McGrath's 71 in World Cup history, at an economy of 3.88 in 40 matches. Though he was eluded from a five-for he claimed four four-for during the course. His best came out against the Kiwis as he was able to claim 13 wickets in 4 matches against the Black Caps. 


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