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Murali sets sights on 600

Kandy: Muttiah Muralidharan has his sights set on 600 Test wickets after his latest record-breaking exploits in the drawn second Test against New Zealand.

The 30-year-old Sri Lankan took his 450th Test wicket and a five-wicket haul for a world-record 37th time during the final day’s play on Wednesday, taking five for 49 from 39 overs in his home town.

The controversial off-spinner, who bowls with a permanently locked elbow and a unique wrist action, finished with a final match analysis of nine for 139.

“To reach 450 wickets here, in Kandy where I grew up, is very special for me,” said Muralidharan. “I am happy but there is a long way to go as I want to play until 2007 and get to 600.”

Muralidharan became the first bowler to take five wickets in an innings on 37 occasions, overtaking Richard Hadlee who claimed 36 five-wicket hauls. He also holds the record for the most 10-wicket hauls, with 11 in 80 matches, and the 30-year-old lies third on the all-time wickettakers’ list.

Only former West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh (519) and Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne (491) have taken more.

Muralidharan took 14 wickets in the two-Test series, a relatively lean haul for a bowler who usually thrives in Sri Lanka’s spin-friendly conditions.

But Muralidharan believes it is now getting harder for him to take Test wickets.

“It is not easy to get wickets now in Test cricket, people have worked me out like they do any world class bowler,” said Muralidharan. “In a negative way they (the New Zealand batsmen) played me well, they never tried to attack though,” he added.

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