Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, who has a staggering 1,347 wickets in international cricket to his name, thinks Chennai Super Kings is the best franchise he has ever played for.

Speaking on Star Sports Tamil show Mind Masters hosted by former India cricketer S Badrinath, the legendary off-spinner, who picked 40 wickets in as many matches for CSK between 2008 and 2010, said there were a number of things he enjoyed about the Indian Premier League.

“I prayed that if I come to the IPL, I have to go to Chennai, as I thought there will be Chennai people in the team,” said Muralitharan.

“So, at that time, there was a good rule, where local players had to be in the team. The first three years was the best of the years because we could speak in our own language. We were around seven-eight people and even VB sir (VB Chandrasekhar) was there who selected us. I have played even for Lanchashire for six to seven years, but I’d say that Chennai Super Kings was the best franchise I have played for.”

Muralitharan also spoke about the importance of being mentally tough to succeed at the top level. Considered by many to be the greatest spinner to have played the game, he said it’s all about knowing how to deal with pressure.

“In any game, 90% of the work is to be tactically and mentally fit. Only then can you play. When you are young, you won’t immediately think about that (being mentally fit) because of your interest and love for the game. Automatically, without being told, you’ll think about what to do and do it,” he said.

“But when you get into the professional level, it’s totally a mental game because of the pressure. A lot of cricketers who have good technique and haven’t dealt with this pressure, have fallen off. So, the mental aspect is more important in any sport, not just cricket.”

The 48-year-old added: “The mind is the most important in professional sport. While one can practice and train hard and hone one’s technical skills, it’s critical to keep working to become strong in the mind. For there will be failures, one may fail to play a shot he always backs himself to, one may not be able to bowl a ball he usually delivers, but if you keep persevering at it and keep practicing don’t give up and importantly keep believing that you can do it – definitely you will succeed. “

Muralitharan, who had his fair share of challenges to deal with as far as his bowling action was concerned, also explained on the show how the entire ordeal made him a stronger individual together with the support of his team and country.

“I used to bowl leg spin also when I was young, so I thought in case I went for tests on my action and then it doesn’t work, I’d become a leg spinner. As for everything, even when you play cricket you should have plan A and plan B. You can’t just stick to one plan. Same with any sport. Any day you can face a failure in your life or sport, failure is guaranteed, you will need to think about it and take it positively and move on saying tomorrow is another day.”