Self-belief keeps him going
Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralidaran, the world's leading bowler in Test cricket, on Thursday set a second record when he became the highest wicket-taker in one-day internationals.
The off-spin wizard surpassed former Pakistan fast bowler Wasim Akram's record of 502 wickets during the fourth one-dayer against India here when he dismissed opener Gautam Gambhir for his 503rd victim.
Muralidaran, 36, also holds the world record in Test cricket with 769 wickets in 125 matches.
The Sri Lankan achieved the one-day feat in his 328th match, while Akram figured in 356 games before retiring in 2003.
Akram praised Muralidaran as a "great bowler" -- and said records were there to be broken.
"I noticed his progress in 2003 and realised he was the only man who could break my record," he said.
"At times I jokingly told him not to play one-day cricket, so that my record would remain intact, but he is relentless in taking wickets. I am happy that a bowler of his calibre has broken my record."
Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar is the only other player to hold two major world records -- highest scorer in Tests (12,429) and one-day internationals (16,440).
Pti adds from New Delhi, proud owner of the unique record of being the highest wicket-taker in both Test and ODI formats of the game, Muralidaran said it was his self-belief which kept him going.
The off-spinner put behind chucking allegations and cleared umpteen bio-mechanical tests before establishing himself as an all-time great spinner.
"I have always played as a team man. During hard times I kept fighting and tried to prove myself every time I went into the field. I never though about past because if you keep on thinking about past, you cannot perform," said Muralidaran.
"You need to always keep faith in yourself, then only you can achieve great things in life," he added.
Muralidaran needed just one wicket before the match to complete a record double and his biggest moment came in his 10th and last over when he had well-set Gambhir (150) caught by wicket-keeper Kumar Sangakkara.
The spinner's teammates rushed in from various parts of the field to congratulate him on the landmark, which is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.
Muralidaran's closest competitor among current players is 35-year-old compatriot Chaminda Vaas (400 wickets), who has not been playing one-day cricket regularly in recent months.
The spinner said ahead of the match that winning matches for his team was more important than milestones.
"The important thing is to win the game. I am going to keep playing and the record will come some day. I am pretty happy with my form," said Muralidaran.
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene recently said hard work was key to Muralidaran's success in both forms of the game.
"I think it's just purely hard work and the commitment and willingness to win matches for his team. That's something you have to admire about him," said the Sri Lankan captain.
"Everyone knows the amount of hard work he has put in over the last 16 years, going through a lot of hardship. That's an amazing effort for a guy who started as a fast bowler and then turned into an off-spinner."
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had said before the start of the series that the "champion" Sri Lankan spinner would complete a bowling double against his team.
"He is a brilliant bowler and has been very consistent. He is a champion bowler," said Dhoni.