February 5, 2009

India in Sri Lanka 2008-09

Murali v Yusuf, redux

Sriram Veera

Wednesday was Sri Lanka’s Independence Day and the teams were invited to a Presidential function. Coming as it did a day after the series was decided, and the hosts had been routed, you’d have expected some awkward moments between the sides. Not a whit; the only distinction was in attire - the Indians dressed casually in team T-shirts and jeans, the Sri Lankans in formals - as they mingled fairly freely. The ice-breaker seems to have been the IPL, which has blurred national boundaries (and language barriers).

Before they left, Muttiah Muralitharan was chatting in the hotel lobby with Yusuf Pathan and L Balaji; Murali's Chennai Super Kings had lost to Pathan's Rajasthan Royals in last year's final. "We would have won if your catch had not been dropped off my bowling," Murali said. Yusuf laughed, and retorted, "Yeah, [Suresh] Raina dropped me, didn’t he?"

"Why don't you try to hit me here in this series?" Murali taunted. Yusuf’s reply was a no-brainer - "I hit you in that final!" Yusuf hit Murali for three sixes, picking 24 runs from 12 Murali deliveries, in an innings of 56 that swung the game. "No turn in that pitch," said Murali, and the three laughed before leaving the hotel. The president was waiting.

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Sriram Veera is a former staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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