Irrespective of its outcome, India's first Test against Sri Lanka, which starts here on Sunday, is going to be a historic affair. After all, Muttiah Muralitharan, the world's most successful bowler, is going to bid farewell to the longest format of the game at the end of the match.
While Murali, the off-spinner, is egging himself on to get eight more wickets and be the first, and in all likelihood the only, man to touch the 800-wicket mark, it will also be the last tussle between the highest wicket-taker and the highest run-getter in Test cricket.
"He's just been brilliant all through his career. Getting 792 wickets is not a joke, isn't it?" Sachin Tendulkar, who has enjoyed many battles with Murali over the years, told the Hindustan Times.
"He has amazing variation and his consistency in line and length has been the key to his success. He has worked very hard to harness his talent. For the last 15 years he has been doing wonders for his team. Sri Lankan team has relied heavily on Murali and he has not let his team down."
Tendulkar compared Murali's contribution to Sri Lankan cricket, especially "his ability to bowl all 45 overs from one end, if need be", to great Indian legspinner Anil Kumble.
"Murali has been to Sri Lanka what Anil was to the Indian team. Since Anil's retirement, Harbhajan (Singh) has started fitting into the role," Tendulkar said.
Having played against some of the greatest spinners the game has ever seen, including Shane Warne, Tendulkar spoke highly of his opponents. The little master, however, refused to be drawn into a comparison between Warne and Murali. Tendulkar said each bowler was effective and had their "own unique styles.", Having won a few battles against the two in his time, Tendulkar did say that he enjoyed his duels with the man who revived the art of slow bowling.
"Though Warne and Murali were totally different characters, it was indeed pleasure to play against them. Warney was skillful and used to show lot of emotion on the field. Murali is a silent operator who works tirelessly to get the batsman out."
Tendulkar signed off while wishing Muralitharan the best for his future endeavours.
"Sri Lankan cricket owes a lot to Murali," said Tendulkar. "They are going to miss his services in Test cricket."