Spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan was surprised when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned him while praising the contribution of Indian origin Tamil community in Sri Lanka, and feels that it is a great honour for him. PM Modi, while addressing the Indian-origin Tamils in Colombo on Saturday, stated that the community "gifted" the world ace spinner Muralitharan and national icon 'Puratchi Thalaivar' MGR.
"It is a pleasant surprise for me that he ( PM Modi) mentioned my name in his address," Muralitharan said.
"India is the largest democracy in the world and it is really a great honour for me because he was mentioning that in my country and was talking about the identity of my community. It's a great thing," he said.
Rated among the greatest bowlers, former Sri Lankan off spinner Muralitharan is the highest wicket taker in Test and ODI. He has taken 800 wickets in 133 Tests and 544 ODI wickets in 350 matches.
"I have great relations with India as you know that I am married to a south Indian girl. Our ancestors are from India and we are like fourth or fifth generation. It is a very close network," said the ace bowler who was born to a Tamil family in Kandy.
Muralitharan married Madhimalar Ramamurthy, a Chennai native, on March 21, 2005.
He said India has always been like an elder brother for Sri Lanka and he hopes that this relationship will further grow.
"It is a very close relationship. For Sri Lanka, India is like an elder brother. That's the kind of relationship we share. We need India's help and India can help us in so many ways. That will be great for our country," he added.
Asked about PM Modi, the legendary cricketer, who is currently the bowling coach of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad, said that he is highly impressed with his popularity.
"We love him like everyone does. He has taken a lot of steps for the people of India. He has done so many things so far and his popularity is growing more. You can see that during election season. I think people love him," Murali said.
(With inputs from PTI)