Sri Lanka’s Muralitharan becomes top Test bowler

KANDY, Sri Lanka, Dec 3, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan claimed his 709th wicket in the first Test against England on Monday to become Test cricket’s most successful bowler. The off-spinner, playing his 116th Test, bowled Paul Collingwood to grab his fifth wicket in the innings and surpass retired Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne’s world record tally of 708 wickets in 145 matches.

Muralitharan, 35, achieved the landmark in his home town of Kandy watched by about 6,000 joyous fans at the Asgiriya stadium, including his parents and Indian wife Madhimalan.

The feat marks a new high in the 15-year career of one of the most celebrated bowlers of the modern game whose controversial bent-arm action was questioned in the past by umpires.

Muralitharan’s 61st five-wicket haul made England 266-8 in reply to Sri Lanka’s modest first innings total of 188. .