India India's Tour of Sri Lanka Legends Test Matches

India in Sri Lanka : 2nd test, P Sara Oval : The 399 day wait

399 days.

That’s how long it had been since India’s last victory in a test match.

Today started with the Indian fans wondering how we were going to muck this one up. After all, we had been here before but had failed to take winning positions to their logical conclusion.

Would the match peter out into a draw? Would Sri Lanka achieve the impossible twice in a row and win it for Sanga?

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The first ball of the day answered some of these questions. Angelo Matthews, Sri Lanka’s inspirational skipper and first innings centurion, edged Umesh Yadav to stand-in wicket keeper Rahul, who took an outstanding catch diving to his right.

Without Angelo to hold the Lankans together, it should have been a matter of time. But Indian fans know better than to start counting their chickens before they hatch.

After all, we have witnessed a world record 10th wicket partnership against us only last year.

We watched with growing excitement as wickets tumbled. Catches were taken at slip. The spinners bowled brilliantly. The quicks breathed fire. Rain came down and then relented. Even the final umpiring decision seemed to go India’s way.

The chickens had finally hatched. The series was tied 1-1.

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I recently watched a couple of clips with Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli. Both of them said winning is what makes them tick. Also, they spoke about how they hate losing.

Spare a thought for these Indian players. How much does it take out of you to lose a test match and turn up at practice the next day? To travel miles away from the comforts of home, away from family? Deal with hostile crowds, the Indian media and have every move of yours scrutinised by an army of experts?

To put in your best. And lose. And then start again. And have the grace to give a retiring legend a fitting guard of honour while you’re at it.

399 days is a long time to wait for anything.

Celebrate tonight boys, you’ve earned it.

[This is also the first time I have had the chance to use the “Ecstasy” tag for a test match since this blog started last year – how exciting!]

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There is nothing we can say here about Kumar Sangakarra which hasn’t been said before. Today was his last day as a test cricketer.

A proud Sri Lankan, Sanga will be remembered as someone who played the game hard and fair. My lasting memories of him will be his knocks at Hobart, his Colin Cowdrey lecture and his run-out of Virender Sehwag – daring, articulate and cheeky respectively- all three sum up Sanga for me.

Hopefully, we will see his keen cricketing mind put to good use, either as a coach or as a commentator. No doubt, he will excel at any role he chooses.

Good luck to him in his second innings. We will miss that square drive.

Purrrrfect!
Purrrrfect!

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