Englandís top batsman Kevin Pietersen has reopened hostilities with archrivals Australia by claiming Sri Lankan off-spin genius Muttiah Muralitharan is harder to read than leg-spin wizard Shane Warne.
Pietersen, who is ranked number one in one-day internationals, said he was much more comfortable facing his Hampshire teammate Warne than Murali.
"Muralitharan is the hardest bowler in the world to face, definitely," Pietersen said before the World Cup game against Sri Lanka.
"Even more difficult [than Warne]. He is a true great of the game. Murali spins the ball both ways whereas with Warney you can sort of counteract," the Wisden Cricketer for 2006 was quoted as saying by 'Sydney Morning Herald'.
Even the top batsmen have struggled to pick Murali at the World Cup, and he has collected nine wickets at 13.11. His doosra remains a potent weapon and he needs only 35 wickets to surpass Warney as the most prolific bowler in Test history.
The Sri Lankan off-spinner claimed Pietersen's wicket four times last winter.
"Murali doesn't say a lot, he just winds you up and winds you up because he knows he's going to get you out," Pietersen said.
"He just smiles and laughs. He's a really happy guy, a nice guy - I call him the silent assassin.
"He has so much talk on the cricket ball he doesn't have to say much," Pietersen added.
And on Wednesday Murali dismissed Pietersen again by unleashed a vicious doosra and then stooped to pouch the low catch offered by a puzzled Pietersen.