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Sportstar Aces Awards 2024 | First-ever International Icon honour goes to spin wizard Muralitharan

One icon to another: Gavaskar recalled how Muralitharan used to pronounce Sehwag and Shoaib, leaving everyone in splits.
| Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

There they were, together on the stage. Sunil Gavaskar, Leander Paes and Muttiah Muralitharan indeed presented a picture of sporting excellence.

Muralitharan was presented with the first ever International Icon award at the Sportstar Aces Awards 2024 here on Thursday. There could not have been a more deserving star than the Sri Lankan spinning legend, who took a stunning 800 Test wickets, for such an award.

“I am lucky to get the first award in this category, and I would like to thank The Hindu and Sportstar as well as the jury comprising legends,” he said. “The first-ever match I got to see featured the legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev.”

Muralitharan said how much cricket meant for a country that was facing so many problems. “Sports was one thing that gave joy to all youngsters, and it made us forget other things,” he said. “That inspired me to take up sport and that is why I am here.”

Paes, the tennis great who shone in his role as a presenter, asked Muralitharan to name the toughest three batters he bowled to.

“Virender Sehwag was the toughest to bowl to,” he said. “The way he played was different; he didn’t care. He just wanted to hit the ball. He wasn’t scared of getting out. That was why he was very dangerous. In Test cricket, when I started out, Brian Lara was the ultimate. Then there was Sachin Tendulkar. It took me about six years to take his wicket.”

Muralitharan also spoke highly of Sunil Gavaskar who took on the most fearsome fast bowlers without wearing helmets. “Gavaskar scored those hundreds in the West Indies in tough conditions against all those fast bowlers,” he said.

Also on the stage to honour Muralitharan was Jayen Mehta, Managing Director, Amul.

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