It will be an emotional moment for both Sri Lanka's spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan and his legion of followers when Test cricket's leading wicket-taker retires from the longest version of the game at Galle International Cricket Stadium following the first India-Sri Lanka Test. To make the event memorable, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is rolling out the red carpet to ensure Murali gets a grand farewell.

"We are keen to give him a good send-off and we will ensure that the event is memorable. We have planned a small ceremony before the first Test and then after the match gets over, we will have another ceremony to give Murali a fitting farewell from Test cricket. He will be leaving behind a great legacy and we will make this event a memorable one," SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga told TOI from Colombo on Saturday. SLC has even formed a special committee the Muralitharan Farewell Committee which has names like SLC chairman DS De Silva, Ranatunga and also the Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera.

Ranatunga said SLC has planned to honour Murali with a special gift, but he wanted to keep it a surprise. "We can't share what the board is planning, but we are surely going to honour him in a special way," he said.

On the day of the Test match, the Galle District Southern Province of Sri Lanka will arrange for 8 to 10 bands to welcome him into the Galle stadium. The local cricket authority is also inviting 500-odd young cricketers to witness the historic moment. Ranatunga said that all the former chairmen and secretaries of the board, and all former skippers would be invited to grace the event.

"There will be firecrackers every time Murali takes a wicket, apart from posters and placards displaying Murali's picture," Ranatunga said.

Batting track for Murali
He needs just eight more scalps to become the first Test bowler to reach the 800-wicket mark, but the bad news is that the Galle pitch is not going to be tailormade to suit his bowling. "We are not going to make a pitch to suit an individual and Murali can take wickets on any pitch," Nishantha Ranatunga said.