<i>Murali the king</i>
Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralidaran became the undisputed bowling king on Thursday with a second world record, leaving his rivals with the improbable task of matching him anytime in the near future.
The off-spinner with the controversial bowling action became the highest wicket-taker in one-dayers when he dismissed India's Gautam Gambhir for his 503rd victim, surpassing former Pakistani paceman Wasim Akram's mark of 502.
The 36-year-old Muralidaran was already the world's leading bowler in Tests, with 769 wickets in 125 matches.
His achievements will be difficult to surpass in both forms of the game, with his nearest rivals among current players compatriot Chaminda Vaas (400 wickets in one-dayers) and South African Makhaya Ntini (378 in Tests).
But left-arm seamer Vaas is 35 and fast bowler Ntini 31. Vaas is currently not even playing one-dayers regularly.
Muralidaran is to bowling what India's Sachin Tendulkar is to batting. The Indian also holds two major cricketing records -- highest runs in Tests (12,429) and one-day internationals (16,422).
But unlike Tendulkar, the Sri Lankan has been grabbing the headlines all over the world for more than a decade as much for his extraordinary talent as for his debatable bowling action.
Muralidaran, born with a bent elbow, was called three times for 'throwing' by Australian umpires in the mid-1990s.
Despite the International Cricket Council amending the law in 2005 to allow a 15-degree flexibility in the bowling arm, the debate refuses to die down.
Muralidaran has taken all the criticism in his stride and continues to make life uncomfortable for batsmen with his huge turn and disconcerting bounce. He is virtually unplayable at home, where pitches are more spinner-friendly.
He also has a deceptive 'doosra', a delivery which leaves the right-handers instead of coming in to them like a conventional off-break.
Muralidaran has played a big role not only in making Sri Lanka a major force in international cricket, but also in reviving the dying art of off-spin.
He has bagged five or more wickets in a Test innings 66 times and 10 or more in a match on 22 occasions -- both world records.
He also has 10 hauls of five or more wickets in 325 one-dayers, his best being 7-30 against India in Sharjah in 2000.
Former Australian captain Steve Waugh once called the Sri Lankan the "Don Bradman of bowlers" and a "rubber-wristed illusionist".
"He is a unique type of bowler. He gets people talking about cricket. He's the sort of player you want in the game. He is great to watch and makes Sri Lanka competitive in world cricket," said Waugh.
Former Australian leg-spin wizard Shane Warne called the Sri Lankan a "unique" bowler who "presents challenges that any serious batsman loves to tackle".
"All in all, whatever your opinion is of the great off-spinner, it's a real challenge to face him, and the way the ball leaves his hands and dips and fizzes is truly a great skill," he wrote in his book "Shane Warne's Century".