In-Focus: Muttiah Muralitharan Bowling Technique

It is hard to forget what Muttiah Muralitharan has done as an international bowler. If there is one thing about him that has been discussed as wildly as his incredible bowling stats and the never-ending controversies, it is his unique bowling technique.

The way Muralitharan bowled was an exciting sight to watch. The sideways swift to the bowling crease, the roar in his eyes, which is followed by a release that made him the prey to many controversies. Every time the Sri Lankan wrist spinner travelled to a non-Asian country, he came back with scars, which only made him grow quick. Nothing stopped him from becoming what he became: the legendary bowler, whose numbers are unbreakable. It was quite an unquenchable journey he had – filled with golds and wounds.

So, we thought we would come up with another article in Muttiah Muralitharan series of posts. This time, it will be one of our in-focus pieces, on Muralitharan’s bowling techniques and the variations he used to bowl. Let’s dive into those without taking any more time.

The Bowling techniques


  • Like any other off-spinner, Muralitharan used his index finger to grip the ball.
  • But as a wrist spinner, his action was completely different from an off-spinner.
  • The primary differentiator is the release of the ball. He releases the ball from the back of the hand like a leg spinner.

Shoulder rotation

  • He used a normal rotation for an off-spinning delivery.
  • And, a wide rotation of the shoulder to produce doosra.


  • The arc of his bowling arm gets complete in the left side of his left leg for the off-spin and top spin.
  • Whereas for doosra, the arc from his right-hand reaches in between his two legs.


  • The Sri Lankan legend used his sideways run-up to create momentum on the crease.
  • A little bit of longer run-up will be used by Murali when he plans to bowl quicker deliveries.

Bowling Variations 


  • The off-break had been his stock delivery, which used to turn towards the right-hander.
  • The ball gets released from the back of the thumb.
  • He has produced two types of off-spin.
  • Vertical seam – the seam lands first and provides extraordinary spin after pitching.
  • Scrambled seam – Here any part of the ball can land, which creates turn and skidding is possible if the sides of the ball lands first on the pitch.


  • The doosra spins in the opposite direction of an off-break. That means, it turns away from a right-handed batsman.
  • Muralitharan invented it after five years from his debut match.
  • This variation increased the wicket-taking option for Murali.
  • This variation of bowling made him lethal. Batsmen were having troubles while facing the ball.
  • At times, he had used the scrambled seam and vertical seam for bowling doosras too.

Top spin

  • In this variation, the ball comes from the top of the index finger.
  • Here the ball falls faster and earlier than the standard delivery.
  • Murali tries to bowl it higher so that the ball will get a dip at the pitching.
  • This type of delivery does turn but not as much as off-break.
  • But it will bounce more than any other of his variations.

Other variations

Pace Variations

  • The mix of pace had been the key for the Sri Lankan off-spinner.
  • He used to bowl between 75 -90 kmph.
  • The pace variation helped him to stop batsmen in making use of their feet down the pitch.

Side of the wicket

  • More than over the wicket angle, Muralitharan loved to bowl from around-the-wicket.
  • It helped him to get LBW as he spins a lot.
  • The probability of getting LBW when he bowled from over-the-wicket was less because of the enormous turn he possessed.
  • Especially his doosras were more effective when bowled from around-the-wicket.

To wrap up,

Hope you have learned a bit of Muralitharan’s bowling techniques and

Added to what we have said above, when it comes to accuracy in the length and line, Muralitharan is the master of it. No surprise he still rules the bowling cards across formats.

My greatest strength is to be able to run in with my eyes closed and deliver a ball exactly where I wanted to pitch,” Muralitharan once said to Kumar Sangakkara

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