Kandy-man Murali set to scale the summit

KANDY, Sri Lanka, Nov 28, 2007 (AFP) – Muttiah Muralitharan returns to his home town to become Test cricket’s most successful bowler, a feat Australia denied him but England are unlikely to prevent. The spin wizard, 35, begins Sri Lanka’s first Test against Michael Vaughan’s men at the Asgiriya stadium here from Saturday needing five wickets to surpass retired Australian Shane Warne’s world mark of 708.

Not even the Englishmen doubt Muralitharan will surpass Warne during the series, most likely at Kandy itself, marking a new high in the career of one of the most celebrated and controversial bowlers of the modern game.

Vaughan conceded Murali’s record was a formality waiting to happen, while journalists travelling with the tourists are running a sweepstake on which English batsman will give him the landmark wicket.

It appears if the off-spinner is destined to reach the summit in this serene hill resort where he was born into a confectioner’s family in 1972 and reached the 700-wicket mark in the last Test here against Bangladesh in July.

Murali, as he is popularly known, went to Australia for two Tests last month needing nine wickets to overtake Warne, but managed only four at the c