On the occasion of the legendary Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's 48th birthday, we revisit his rise to the top of the international wicket-takers' charts through an animated graph.
Muttiah Muralitharan made his international debut in August 1992. At the time, Indian all-rounder Kapil Dev was the world's most prolific wicket-taker, while Wasim Akram was making rapid strides towards the top of the chart.
Interestingly, at the time, there wasn't a single spinner among the top ten international wicket-takers. Through the period between 1995 and 1997, big changes started taking place, with fast bowling titans like Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose and Waqar Younis rising through the ranks. In the meantime, Akram rose to No.1.
It wasn't until 1998 when the first spinner burst into the top 10 in the form of the legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, marking a new era of spin dominance. By late 1999, Indian leggie Anil Kumble joined him in the top 10 and early in 2000 Muttiah Muralitharan made his entry as well.
By 2004, only a year after Akram's retirement from international cricket, Muralitharan climbed to the No.1 spot, overtaking the Pakistani quick's tally of 916 wickets. In the seven years between then and his retirement, Muralitharan consolidated his place at the top, finishing with an astronomical 1,347 international wickets, 346 clear of Warne at second place.
Other key stats
- Muralitharan holds the record for most wickets in Tests with a round 800
- He also remains the most prolific wicket-taker in ODIs with 534 scalps
- He is the leading spin bowling wicket-taker in ICC Men's Cricket World Cups and second overall with 68 wickets