India's Test squad, barring Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir, who have already returned home, and all eight replacements for the coming tri-series celebrated their Very Very Special victory for two hours before the senior pros left for the airport. After all, their series-levelling win gave them one of their rare victories on foreign soil.
The victory was even sweeter considering that India went into the match without three of their key players – Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan and Gambhir.
"Very satisfied with the effort we put in the last Test and the fightback again shows the character of this team," coach Gary Kirsten said.
"This is what the team is all about and what we can do in pressure situations. It was particularly satisfying with the way the Test panned out. The end result was special."
After conceding the first Test in Galle, India clawed their way back to draw the second and then turned the tables around with an all-round show at the P Sara Oval to level the series.
Chasing 257, India were reduced to 62 for 4 early on Saturday. However, centurion VVS Laxman’s associations with Sachin Tendulkar (109) and Suresh Raina (unbeaten 87) turned the tide and helped avoid a series defeat in Sri Lanka for the first time in 17 years.
"If we would have lost the series it would have been because of the batsmen, a draw means both the batsmen and bowlers did decently well and to win the series it would mean that our bowlers have performed really well over the series," skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.
Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara, however, didn't feel that India had won a moral victory. "One all is one all. It's neither here nor there. I thought right throughout the Test we took more wickets and we scored more runs," Sangakkara said. "We created a lot more opportunities as well, and of course converting those opportunities in these two Tests wasn't there, but, it was the only window India had to come back into this series."
Whether Sangakkara agrees or not, the smiles on the seven Indian cricketers – Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Amit Mishra, Murali Vijay, Munaf Patel and Wriddhiman Saha – as they checked out of the hotel to return home, showed that they had earned more than just a moral victory.