Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 5th day

'We couldn't have scripted it better' - Sangakkara

Sa'adi Thawfeeq in Galle

July 22, 2010

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Muttiah Muralitharan is carried off the field by Kumar Sangakkara and Dammika Prasad, Sri Lanka v India, 1st Test, Galle, 5th day, July 22, 2010
'There will be just one Murali' - Kumar Sangakkara © Associated Press
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Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said his team couldn't have scripted it better after they beat India by ten wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the series. The hosts experienced the dual joy of winning comprehensively and watching Muttiah Muralitharan bag his 800th wicket in his final Test to seal victory.

"When we came here on the first day, we got to a good start, "Sangakkara said. "The second day was washed out and there were some doubts in my mind whether we could get a result. Once we got that 500 platform and the way Lasith (Malinga) bowled, there was no way we were going to lose the match," Sangakkara said.

Sangakkara said Murali, despite talk of whether he would get to the 800-wicket landmark, remained focused on winning the Test. "What we spoke about was let's enjoy. There was no other person to do it than Murali. We've got to enjoy the test because he had done so much for us over the years.

"There's nothing more we can do, we wanted to win this match. Murali never spoke about the 800 wickets, although the press did. He was focused on winning the match."

"I don't think we gave Murali a gift, he gave us one. At the start the game I said that if Murali picks up eight wickets, we will win the match. He got eight wickets and on the other hand Malinga gave good support. As a team, we are thrilled that in his last game, Murali, like he has done for 18 years, gave us one more win."

Sangakkara also paid tribute to Murali for his contribution to Sri Lankan cricket and hoped he would continue to remain part of the set-up. "We are indebted for him for all what he's done. People like Arjuna (Ranatunga) were able to get us to this state. After 18 years for the work load he did, Murali is retiring from Tests today, but I feel as a team we are happy that we played with him for so long and hopefully he'll join us in the ODIs. If we can get Murali's service in some way or the other, even as a consultant or just to come and sit and have a chat in the dressing room is a great thing. I don't think anyone in our dressing room gets the amount of respect Murali does."

Murali and Lasith Malinga shared 15 of the 20 Indian wickets, and Sangakkara said they, along with a strong collective performance with the bat in the first innings, kept the pressure on India throughout. "It was important that we used Lasith and Murali in spells that counted and got us wickets. I think every spell they bowled they managed to do that.

"You can't forget Tharanga Paranavitana's contributions with the bat, as well as Rangana Herath's and Malinga's. Those are things that won us the game. Lasith came and did what he usually does for us in one-day cricket. The Indians were constantly under pressure. When something gives, usually a couple more follow. We are happy with that."

Malinga returned to the Test format after almost 30 months, and Sangakkara said it was a challenge to have him fit throughout. "We've been trying to get Lasith to play all forms of cricket for two years now. We believe in him immensely. He's a fighter, works as hard as anyone as I have seen. He prepares well to play matches for Sri Lanka. Unfortunately he was feeling a bit stiff. We don't want to bowl him into the ground. You know, we've done it with Murali for so many years. He's feeling it now.

"Test cricket is like that. It's a hard place for bowlers. Everyone forgets how difficult it is to be in the sun and bowl constantly on sometimes wickets that give you very little. With our cricket board we have been discussing to introduce a bonus scheme for bowlers who play an x number of games per year. At the end of the day, an injury will end your career. This is the prime form of the game and we need everyone hungry to play in this form," he said.

Murali was irreplaceable, Sangakkara said, and the onus was on the rest of the bowling unit to step up in his absence. "My theory is that I am not going to look for another Murali because you are not going to find one. There'll be just one.

"For me, leading out the side without Murali is a huge loss. But it gives us an opportunity to see how really the other bowlers will be able to give us test wins. I don't think anyone is going to take us eight-fors and nine-fors for us. They might to do it once in a while. We'll share the wickets out, do the hard work necessary and win games for Sri Lanka by bowling the unique way."

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Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (July 24, 2010, 8:35 GMT)

@ KiwiRocker And which pakistani middle order batsman are you talking about? and what have they done ?

Posted by   on (July 24, 2010, 8:30 GMT)

congrads murali, it was a great achievement considering all the road blocks put in by Australia (at least 10% of the country) what most of murali's accusers who says he chuck and warne deserve the record conveniently forget is that warne was banned for a year taking performance enhancing drugs. so pls keep that in mind

Posted by kates15 on (July 24, 2010, 0:12 GMT)

@KiwiRocker: I agree the current indian team which is playing in SL is not the best but to rank india 5th u need to do some serious learning of game and especially test cricket 1) Australia :- will definitely agree with you on this 2) South Africa :- Drew with england at home, drew with india in india just won against hopeless WI from last 3 test series. prior to that lost to aus at home. So definitely not a clear no 2. 3) England :- R u kiddin me!!!! 4) Sri Lanka :- Lets not talk of series win here lets talk of test wins here "0" in India, SA and aus. so i guess if fully fit india is close 2nd to aus with sa.

Most over rated batsman of all time Tendulkar is not winning anything for India ??? look at recent results from last two years u will know ur answer

dude next time use statsguru. fyi KIWIs have the best batmen in their team by name Daniel vittori :- and its no joke HAHAHAHAH

Posted by Nampally on (July 23, 2010, 18:28 GMT)

SL owed this victory to Murali. He put in his vintage performance in his farewell appearance. At the same time SL was lucky to face India's second string bowling due to injuries to Zaheer & Sreesanth. Even Harbhajan was bowling weakened by Flu. To top it all, India's fielding lapses allowed 2 Centurians who capitalised on dropped catches to the tune of over 100 runs. This aided by the luck of winning the toss resulted in a lop sided result. It will also be difficult for Malinga to reproduce the same performance again.I personally feel that the next 2 tests may result in closely contested matches especially if India win the all important Toss. Gambhir who has always been a big performer in SL, failed twice. He is due for a big innings. If Gambhir & Sehwag are at their best, then SL will have the tables reversed on them. But the Galle test belonged to Murali the Great who Sanga rightly says cannot be replaced. Farewell & happy retirement Murali. You are the greatest.

Posted by thenkabail on (July 23, 2010, 16:48 GMT)

Indian selectors (Srikanth and co.) are a joke. They are ruining Indian cricket. It is time to drop Laxman and Yuvraj and replace them with Pujara and Rohit Sharma immediately. Early next year they need to replace Sachin and Dravid. It is hard to say with whom. have to llok for real talent out there. In bowling, what is the point of selecting people like Ojaha, Ashwin etc, who can hardly take a wicket at test level. Mithun needs all encouragement. Bring in Unadkat and Harmeet Singh. Piyush Chawla needs a long run. Prpbably Murli larthik. But stop selecting jokers. The # 1 ranking is a joke. India can not be number 1 without defeating Australia in Australia, South Africa in South Africa and Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. Please fire Srikanth.

Posted by   on (July 23, 2010, 15:58 GMT)

noone is better then murali-

Posted by   on (July 23, 2010, 15:56 GMT)

Murali the one and only of his kind. A legend, tormentor of batsmen all over the world. We salute him for the services rendered not only for SL cricket, but also other social activities done through his foundation. Specially, construction of 1000 odd houses for Tsunami victims in the Seenigama, south of SL. After retirement from test cricket he is going to build another housing complex in Mankulam, nothern SL for the benefit of internally displaced persons due to the war between the govt. forces and the LTTE. Three hearty cheers for Murali, living legend, hip hip hooray! hip hip hooray!! hip hip hooray!!!

Posted by   on (July 23, 2010, 15:55 GMT)

Somehow I feel more connected to Srilankan cricket than the Indian cricket

Posted by   on (July 23, 2010, 15:40 GMT)

Thank you, thank you and thank you Murali. You will be missed on the field, but please don't go away from the team, get dug in the coaching and other matters show them it can be done better, just like you did better on the field. If any official makes you feel uncomfortable, I will campaign on your behalf. Playing is only one of your abilities, there is more to you. You can heel Sri Lanka and her cricket (if needed).

Posted by nk_sharma on (July 23, 2010, 15:03 GMT)

All the best Murali. You have been a great cricketer and human being. But having the extra advantage (natural bend in wrist/hand) in action, he can not be considered as the greatest spinner. In my opinion, he may be ranked third best spinner after Warne and Kumble.

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