London: Former Indian cricketer Venugopal Rao after retiring from all forms of cricket on Wednesday said that playing with Sri Lanka's legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan on debut was an unforgettable experience.
Rao on Tuesday announced his retirement from all forms of cricket. He made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka at Dambulla in 2005. In his first inning, he scored 38 runs off 74 balls and was dismissed by Muralitharan.
"Playing Muttiah Muralitharan on debut was an unforgettable experience. As batsmen, we grew up playing spin, but I felt nothing quite prepared you to face him. He was an exceptional bowler. I have fond memories of that game even though India lost," ESPNcricinfo quoted Rao as saying.
The 37-year-old said he was nervous before his India debut and many thoughts came in his mind and the coach Greg Chappel told him that you are good enough to be here which gave him a belief.
"Ahead of my India debut, I was a little nervous. Many thoughts ran through my mind. Greg had just taken up as a coach, and he told me 'Look, for me, where you come from doesn't matter. I know you are good enough to be here, and that is why you are here.' Those words gave me a lot of belief," Rao said.
"In the early 1990s, they used to laugh whenever someone from Andhra desired to play for India. To be one of only two cricketers from the region (MSK Prasad being the other) to play for the country proved that you can achieve your goal," he added.
Middle-order batsman Rao featured in 16 ODIs for India and amassed 218 runs including a high score of 61.
In IPL he has played 65 matches and scored 985 runs with an average of 22.39.
"To come from a fishing village near Visakhapatnam, where my father worked for a modest salary of INR 7000 to support five children, and play was a big thing. All credit to my parents," Rao concluded.