Legendary off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has claimed that, during his playing days, he had the intuition that Sachin Tendulkar had a ‘small weakness’ against off-spinners. Muralitharan, who in his 19-year-long international career had many a titanic battle with Sachin, claimed that he found the Indian batsman to always be ‘uncomfortable’ against off-spin, and asserted that, owing to that very reason, he had an edge over the right-hander.
"I felt in my career, Sachin had a small weakness against off-spin. With leg-spin he smashes but off-spin somehow he had the difficulty because I got him out so many times. And lots of off-spinners also got him so many times, I have seen it,” Muralitharan said during an interaction with Aakash Chopra on ESPNCricinfo.
"I don't know, I never spoke to him regarding this, that why 'you aren't comfortable with off-spin.' I felt in my mind he had a little bit of weakness that's why I got a little bit of advantage compared to other players. Sachin is a difficult player, it's very hard to get him out."
The legendary off-spinner, who is the highest wicket-taker in Test history, also revealed that while he preferred bowling to run-accumulators like Sachin, he dreaded coming up against batsmen of the Virender Sehwag mould. Muralitharan, in his career, was at the receiving end of many a Sehwag assault, including a 293 in Mumbai in 2009 where the Indian opener blasted a total of 47 boundaries during his 254-ball stay in the middle.
"For Sachin, there was no fear to bowl because he won't hurt you. Unlike Sehwag who can hurt you. Because he (Sachin) will protect his wicket, he is a good reader of the ball and he knows the technique.
"Sehwag is so dangerous, for him we put deep fielders because I know he would go for his chance. He would go for his instincts and he knows 'On my day I will attack anyone I want'. So what we will do is go for the defensive field and wait for him to make mistake
“But what Virender Sehwag does is he makes sure that he will play two hours of the day and make 150 runs or if he plays the entire day he would make 300, that kind of attitude he had.
"So such kind of players were dangerous for us are our match-winners."
The 49-year-old further singled-out Babar Azam and Virat Kohli as two of the better players of spin in the current generation.
"Kohli is a good player of spin, especially in Test cricket. Babar Azam looks like one of the better players,” Muralitharan said.
(With PTI inputs)