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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014
A tale of two masters
Abhijeet Kulkarni, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, April 01, 2011
First Published: 00:05 IST(1/4/2011)
Last Updated: 10:34 IST(1/4/2011)
This combination picture shows Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan (L) delivering a ball in Colombo and batsman Sachin Tendulkar (R) playing a shot in Mohali during their respective matches of the Cricket World Cup 2011.

Their emphasis on perfection has bordered on obsession with even team-mates finding it difficult to cope with their hunger.

But Sachin Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralitharan have played cricket with the same fervour for more than two decades and the two most successful cricketers would want to script a "perfect bow" in the World Cup final on Saturday.

Fitness permitting, Muralitharan, 38, will be playing his last international game on Saturday, while Tendulkar, at 37, is, in all probability, making his sixth and final appearance at the quadrennial event.

And none of them is likely to blink in the pursuit of a fairytale ending.

The final frontier
During the World Cup promotional campaign, Tendulkar had spoke about his dream of lifting the trophy ever since he was a 10-year-old.

Five failed campaigns later, he has been presented with a golden opportunity to fulfill his childhood dream in his hometown.

Even if Tendulkar misses out on his 100th century on Saturday, it would be of little consequence if he plays a crucial role in the team's victory.

The champion batsman has gone about his task by shielding himself from the hype surrounding him and the team, and doesn't want anyone to lose focus.

His outburst in the dressing room after India frittered away a good start against South Africa in the league stage (as reported by HT on March 14) gives a glimpse of his frame of mind.

"Going back to Mumbai for this event is going to be a wonderful occasion. We have to be calm and focussed," Tendulkar had said after bagging the Man-of-The-Match award in Wednesday's semifinal.

Giving it his all
Muralitharan is anxious to ensure that his last hurrah doesn't end up on the sidelines. He has played the tournament enduring pain and injuries. He has been taking it easy in training to ensure he recovers before the final.

Doubts still persist over Murali's fitness but he has managed to dictate terms on his farewell appearances.

While he scaled 'Mount 800' off his last ball in Test cricket last year, he took a wicket off his last ball in the semifinal against New Zealand on Saturday.

Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss refused to give details on Muralitharan's recovery but said he wouldn't be surprised if the spinner plays.

"He is an important cog in the successful team environment… I just hope we play some good cricket for him."

Come Saturday, and only one of the two greats will end up on the right side of history.


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