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Monday, August 24, 2015

An Indian win after more than a year .... Sangakkara retires !!

An Indian win is always sweet – today : India 393 (Rahul 108, Rohit 79, Kohli 78, Herath 4-81) and 325 for 8 dec. (Rahane 126, Vijay 82, Prasad 4-43, Kaushal 4-118) beat Sri Lanka 306 (Mathews 102, Thirimanne 62, Mishra 4-43) and 134 (Karunaratne 46, Ashwin 5-42, Mishra 3-29) by 278 runs   - which is  their fourth-highest margin in terms of runs (excluding innings wins) and their biggest away win since they won by 279 runs at Headingley in 1986. Overall, this was their tenth-biggest win in terms of innings or runs in away Tests and their biggest since they beat Bangladesh by an innings and 239 runs in Dhaka in 2007.

It is not the margin but the  dry gap – it has  been more than a year since India last won a Test match, at Lord's in 2014.  Indians had to wait for the rain to stop and  seven balls after lunch on the fifth day, Dushmantha Chameera padded up to an Amit Mishra googly. Mishra spun around in appeal; Rod Tucker's finger went up immediately.

It will be too premature to give credit and start praising Virat Kohli for his first win – it was against an ordinary opponent – the team clicked and there are some areas for which the Captain deserves credit, especially handling of leggie Amit Mishra, who played after 4 years of wilderness.    Ravichandran Ashwin has had 17 wickets thus far -  with one more Test to go this is already the most taken by an India bowler in a series in Sri Lanka. He has taken one more wicket than the 16 taken by Harbhajan Singh in the 2008 series. This is also the first time an India bowler has taken two five-fors in a series in Sri Lanka.

It was Kumar Sangakkara's final day -  Test match concluded by  about 111 minutes for the Indians to take the last eight Sri Lanka wickets and level the series. Once the game ended, the occasion that its end contained took over.  When someone questioned how he went from being a "just a good" Trinity College cricketer to an international "legend" he smiled widely and said, "For me it was a case of working, changing, working, changing and trying to find a formula. More often than not, I was fortunate that what I tried worked. I wish there was a secret like I knew exactly what's working. At time you just don't know what is working and you keep doing it. You don't count the teeth of a gift horse when it's running. You change it only when you hit a stumbling block and try something new."

Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara bid a tearful farewell to international cricket and was immediately offered the post of the island's top envoy in Britain where he plays county cricket. Several thousand cheering fans, many of them school children waving Sri Lankan flags, along with VIPs, turned out to farewell Sangakkara on the final day.  "You have been a great honour to Sri Lanka," Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said in a televised ceremony at P. Sara Oval for the formidable cricketer after the match.

Sangakkara, who turns out for Surrey in England, did not directly address Sirisena's announcement on the offer of the post of High Commissioner to Britain, equivalent to the role of ambassador, later telling reporters he had been unprepared for the gesture. "It was a surprise, I have to go and think about it and discuss with his excellency (the president)," Sangakkara said.  During the formal sendoff, the 37-year-old broke down as he thanked his parents for standing by him during his 15 years of cricket.  

In ODIs, he scored 14,234 runs in 404 matches, averaging nearly 42 with 25 centuries. He took 402 catches in ODIs and has 99 stumpings against his name.  In Tests, he has ended with 12400 runs with 319 as highest; 38 tons and 52 fifties in 134 tests – 182 catches and 20 stumpings …. Rich indeed !!

At the Oval, in 5th Investec  Tec – Aussies who have lost the Series salvaged some pride by winning the Test and giving a good farewell to opener Chris Rogers and Captain Michael Clarke.  Australia 481 (Smith 143, Warner 85, Voges 76, Starc 58) beat England 149 and 286 (Cook 85, Siddle 4-35) by an innings and 46 runs.

Back home, in what could otherwise go unnoticed on so much happening in a day, the swashbuckler, Virender Sehwag has quit Delhi to move to Haryana for the forthcoming domestic season. Sehwag's switch doesn't come as a surprise. In fact, his departure from his home team was anticipated this season. Even in 2009, he had threatened to walk out, alleging nepotism and corruption in Delhi cricket.

At Srilanka, after injury to Shikhar Dhawan, more worries - Wriddhiman Saha and Murali  Vijay have been ruled out of the final Test of the Sri Lanka series due to hamstring injuries. Wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha will replace Saha in the squad, while Karun Nair comes in for Vijay.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Aug 2015.

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