Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan has said that Sachin Tendulkar was a “genius from day one” and no cricketer can be like the Indian batting maestro. Muralitharan, who has the highest number of wickets in international cricket, told ANI in an interview that the upcoming biopic ‘800′ is not only about his cricket but also about what happened beyond the game. The bowling legend talked about his cricketing duels with Sachin on the pitch and how he wished that the Indian batter got out quickly.
“No cricketer can ever be like Sachin. Because at 14 years of age, he got a first-class hundred, at 16 years of age he represented the country, and at the age of 17, he got a century for them. That is impossible.”
Muralitharan, who retired from international Test cricket in 2010, said he played under seven captains.
“See, I know my skill. I also know what he (Sachin) will try to do. It is a guess game, like a chess game. You pray that he gets out as quickly as possible. I have played under seven captains in 20 years. I will recall an incident from 2007. We (Sri Lanka), Bermuda, Bangladesh and India were in the same group (in 2007 50-over World Cup). Only two teams could go further. We were playing India. We thought Sachin was going to open in the tournament, but thank god, he batted at number four. When Dilhara Fernando got his wicket, India lost while chasing 255,” he said.
“In the 1996 World Cup, the wicket used to turn a lot. When Sachin was batting (in the semis chasing 252), India was 70/1. It looked like a batting wicket. But (after) he got out, India (team was reduced to) 120/7. He makes things easier than others, he plays like that. For us, getting him out was more important. When he got out, the hopes of the entire India went down, but our hopes would go up,” he added.
Talking about his relationship with Sachin, Muralitharan said the Indian legend is a “down-to-earth” person.
“As a good friend, I would say he is very down to earth. I have never seen such a larger-than-life character, with a billion people expecting so much from him. More than a colleague, I am also a fan. I was mesmerised by what he could do as a youngster. It was unbelievable. I struggled for my first six to seven years when I started, only in the latter part I cruised through. But Sachin was a genius from day one,” he said.
Muralitharan, who retired from Tests in 2010, said that when he asked Sachin about releasing the trailer of the movie, the former cricketer readily agreed.
“I also thought of calling Jayasuriya (Sanath Jayasuriya, former Sri Lanka all-rounder who was present at the launch of the trailer) for the launch. He started out a bit earlier than me, but we finished together. He was tremendous as a player and captain. He changed the way ODI cricket is played,” he added.
Muralitharan said the biopic ‘800′ talks about his achievement of wickets and the success of the Sri Lankan team against the odds.
“It is also about what happened beyond cricket. It talks about how I achieved that 800-wicket mark…how my country went through a civil war, the success of the Sri Lankan team. I have seen glimpses of the movie. It comes out really nice, hope people will enjoy it,” he said.
Sachin and former Sri Lanka skipper Sanath Jayasuriya unveiled the trailer in Mumbai on September 5. The biopic is set to be released on October 6.
Member of the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, Muralitharan is widely regarded as one of the greatest bowlers in the history of the sport and is the only bowler to take 800 Test wickets and 530 ODI wickets. He is also the highest wicket-taker in both Test and ODI formats and averages over six wickets per Test match.
Muralitharan dismissed Tendulkar 13 times in his career.
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