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Spin king Murali hungry for success

Spin king Muttiah Muralitharan said that he was hungry for success after a shoulder injury kept him out of international cricket for almost a year.

The 33-year-old off-spinner returns to Test cricket when he plays in the first Test against the West Indies starting at the SSC grounds today. It has been a frustrating 11 months for Muralitharan who underwent surgery in his right arm, but he is also happy in a way that he got a break away from international cricket.

"I think the near one year break has done a lot to me because I got fitter in other ways. I also needed a rest having played 14 years of continuous cricket.

The rest has given me an opportunity to play cricket for some more years," said the 33 year-old off-spinner who is chasing Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne for the world record. In Muralitharan's absence Warne shot ahead and has 583 Test wickets.

"The break gave me an opportunity of given thought to my family. I got married and everything went right for me. I am very keen to get back," he said.

Muralitharan was thankful to English county Lancashire for giving him the opportunity to play for them while he was recovering from his operation.

"I was able to bowl about 200-odd overs and I got 36 wickets in championship games. It brought my confidence back. The first 2-3 matches was a bit difficult bowling because my arm was sore. But I kept on and got my rhythm back," said Muralitharan. "I started to enjoy myself when the wickets started to come. I am hungry to play more cricket and want to perform for Sri Lanka in the coming years. I am confident that I will do well."

Muralitharan expressed disappointment that West Indies were not playing their best side against Sri Lanka in the two Tests.

"I am disappointed in a way because I need a challenge. I enjoy beating the best sides with the best players," said Muralitharan who is the second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 532 wickets.

"The unfortunate has happened and West Indies have put the best team they could for the test. I hope I get some bowling," said Muralitharan who is returning to international cricket after a long lay-off due to an injured shoulder.

The last occasion West Indies toured Sri Lanka in 2001, the cricketing world saw a fascinating dual between the best batsman in the world Brian Lara and the best bowler Muralitharan. Lara made a mountain of runs - 688 runs (avg. 114.66) with three hundreds and Muralitharan captured 24 wickets at 22.33.

Muralitharan said that he was happy to see his team perform well in his absence by winning a series against South Africa and drawing a series in Pakistan. He said that he was 90 percent fit and that his arm will have to be treated for the next six months. - [S.T.]

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