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I Wanted Murali To Continue, Says His Wife Madhimalar

Sri Lankan's magical spinner Muthiah Muralitharan's wife Madhimalar is Indian, daughter of Dr S Ramamurthy of Malar Hospitals in Chennai, but on Thursday she was a more fervent Sri Lankan fan than many at the

PTI PTI Updated on: July 22, 2010 10:38 IST
i wanted murali to continue says his wife madhimalar
i wanted murali to continue says his wife madhimalar

Sri Lankan's magical spinner Muthiah Muralitharan's wife Madhimalar is Indian, daughter of Dr S Ramamurthy of Malar Hospitals in Chennai, but on Thursday she was a more fervent Sri Lankan fan than many at the Galle cricket ground.  

"Yes, there's no problem, although I grew up watching Sachin and all," she says, a broad grin on her face, says a media report.  

"I seriously started following cricket only after I married Murali in 2005, and I've learnt the game through Lankan eyes. In India, they teach you to support your husband, don't they?"

She grins again, as if she knows the answer will perplex. The modest and forthright Madhimalar is an MBA, the 'black sheep', she says, in a family of doctors.  

"I guess I was destined to support Lanka. My mother (Dr Nithya Shanmugam) has Sri Lankan roots, and she was delighted when this match was made. I first met Murali in 2004, soon after the tsunami, and immediately took a liking to him. He's a fiercely determined man."

The grand farewell at Galle has overwhelmed her, but she seems sad this is Murali's last Test.  

"I have been watching each and every ball of this Test. I've been here day from morning to evening. He discussed his plans with me before making them public. I wanted him to carry on, but when we realized he had made up his mind there was nothing we could do about it. We wanted him to at least play the whole series, but he would have none of it. Once he has made up his mind he won't listen to anyone," she says, shaking her head.

"Murali never brings cricket or his troubles home, and I don't prod him. But this time he discussed. He said he wanted to give youngsters an opportunity and not hang on."  

She waves to Murali again, who waves back and seems to keep half an eye on her all the time from the field.  

"The love and admiration we have got here is unthinkable and a bit scary," she says. "I loved Sri Lanka the moment I landed here. It's beautiful. Murali has been through difficult times often enough but the people here have always stood by him."

Naren keeps interrupting her, and running away to bowl when she does respond.  

“He loves Twenty20," she says, "All that Chennai Super Kings thing. He wants to bowl fast. Murali would love him to watch Tests too, but I guess he's too young for that. But yes, Murali would love him to play cricket of some form or the other."

Another wicket falls, and she turns back to the action on the field. "India are having a hard time, aren't they," she chuckles. "Lanka will miss Murali. For him it's just a number, but I wish he gets to that 800." With only two more scalps to go, she won't be missing Thursday's play for the world.

This may be Muttiah Muralitharan's last Test match but the veteran off-spinner seems as cool as a cucumber. His mannerisms may suggest otherwise but the iron man is a picture of calm out in the middle.

Up in the stands, in the cool confines of the VIP box, the 37-year-old's family is simply not at ease. “Every time Murali picks up a wicket, my heart starts beating faster. I get so excited and I can't just wait for him to get to the 800-wicket mark,” says Madhi Malar Ramamurthy, Murali's better half.

“I hope he picks up those remaining wickets today (Wednesday) itself. Otherwise, all of us will have to wait anxiously for yet another day. The more we wait, the more tense it gets,” she adds while asking naughty Naren, the couple's young son, not to run around helter-skelter.

And Malar, as you would expect, is an extremely proud wife. The whole country is celebrating her husband's achievements. “I never expected all of this. People have composed songs on Murali, life-size cutouts and posters are everywhere!

“Tears of joy just flow down my cheeks when I realise how special he is to the people of Sri Lanka, how much they love him and how much he means to them. I have never seen anybody in any sphere of life get this kind of a farewell. I am proud to be Murali's wife,” Malar, who hails from Chennai, says.

That Murali won't play Test cricket again also means he will spend more time with folks and friends. “He is on tour most of the time and has not been able to stay at home for long. He'll have more time at hand now,” she says with a smile.

So how supportive was his family when Murali informed them of his retirement decision. “He had planned it earlier. He wanted to retire after the home series against the West Indies. However, as an afterthought, he chose to call it a day after the first Test against India,” Malar goes on to explain.

“He did consult us but it was his own decision and we were all fine with it. He is a matured individual, a great cricketer and knows what he wants to do. He will continue to play ODIs,” she adds.

With a staggering 515 wickets (also a world record) in the 50-over format to add to his Test exploits, Malar says her husband has nothing more to achieve. “He is quite a satisfied man,” she says matter-of-factly.

The good news, she informs, is that he will continue to turn out for county sides as well as IPL champions Chennai Super Kings. And Murali has already ensured his legacy continues. “Dad and son play all the time,” Malar informs. What's more, Murali has also taught Naren “quite a few tricks of spin bowling” and one reckons he's done well as a ‘coach'. Ask Naren to roll his arm and he spins a sponge ball just like you know who. “Of course, he loves Naren so much and they also watch cricket together. Naren loves all the Indian players, especially CSK players like (MS) Dhoni, (Suresh) Raina, (Murali) Vijay and other guys,” Malar adds.

She goes on to say that her husband loves “watching Tamil movies”. And as far as life outside cricket is concerned, he has quite a few plans which “we hope will be successful.” No doubt about that! And which team does she support India or Sri Lanka? She is quick to respond: “Sri Lanka”.

She has been frantically sketching away on a notepad to keep son Naren, a frightful bundle of energy at four, occupied for anything more than a minute.

But the sheafs are scattered in all the excitement as her husband celebrates out in the middle, even taking time out to wave to her. She is ecstatic, and Naren spies the opportunity to slip out of his mother's grasp and run down the aisle to practise his seamers.

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