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7 great cricketers who struggled in Tests in India

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#5 Muttiah Muralitharan

2011 ICC World Cup - Sri Lanka Nets Session
Muttiah Muralitharan

It speaks volumes about the skill of the Indian batsmen in the 1990s and 2000s that they played in an era where arguably the two greatest spin-bowlers of all time in Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan, yet made them both struggle for results in India.

Similar to Warne, Muralitharan only averaged above 30 with the ball in two countries. In five games in Australia he only managed an average of 75.42, and in 11 games in India, the most he played in a single country away from home, his average was 45.45. This is not very different from Warne's average in India, which was 43.12.

In these 11 Tests Muralitharan did still manage to take 40 wickets and deliver some quality performances, but the fact his average in India is nearly twice that of his career average cannot be ignored.

Muralitharan started fairly well against India, taking 5/162 in his first innings bowling there. He was even the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers in the next Test, as he took 4/179.

But in both Tests India would win by an innings, and despite subsequently only having to bowl in two innings in these Tests, Muralitharan delivered 106.5 overs in the two Tests combined. It would be understandable if he felt somewhat discouraged after this.

Whatever the effect of this series on Muralitharan, his next of India was far worse. Here Muralitharan took just 3 wickets for 311 runs, once again bowling in two innings across two Tests, and this time bowling a total of 121 overs.

This series took place in 1997, and Muralitharan wouldn't play in India again until eight years later in 2005. But in Muralitharan made up for lost time, as he took 7/100 in the first innings of the second Test. Nevertheless, Muralitharan still only averaged 31 in this series, and in his final tour of India would struggle once more, with an average of 65.67.

Muralitharan was perhaps unlucky, as regardless of whether he was finding joy with the ball or not, he was expected to carry his attack. But that Warne and Muralitharan both struggled so much in India does give some insight into why it is so difficult for visiting teams to win there.

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