I have watched Murali bowl from his debut Test. He used to be an ordinary bowler. I can't remember when he transformed himself into a match winning bowler. If one goes through statsguru, one should be able to figure out that critical timepoint.
Even after he became a matchwinner, Indian batsmen handled him quite comfortably. Until Murali developed his doosra into an art. A wild spinning off break, or a power packed top spinner can be handled well, if you can estimate the spin in the delivery. But doosra makes you so confused.
My biggest disappointment was that my favourite batsman Dravid could never deal with Muralitharan properly.
Somehow, Murali's 800 wickets seem so unreal. Next time I see his picture in a newspaper or a TV, I am unlikely to remember his 800 wickets. The only picture in my mind is him strapped to some biomechanical probes, wanting to prove that he is not a chucker. I can only remember the pain in his eyes.
The Australians dealt with him in the most unfair manner. That includes Darrell Hair as well. But the Aussie fans were incorrigible. Right through that tough period Sri Lankan cricket machinery stood firmly behind Murali. And in particular Arjuna Ranatunga.
For that unflinching faith the Sri Lankans had in Murali, he has delivered back, more than his share.
Good bye Murali!