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Emotional day, perfect ending

india Updated: Jul 24, 2010 23:20 IST

The final day in Galle will live long in my memory. It was the most emotional day of my career and the whole team was overjoyed that Murali had the perfect send-off.

When play started we hoped Murali would be able to take two quick wickets and wrap things up, but things did not go to plan and by lunchtime we were getting worried.

Snaring MS Dhoni early was obviously a huge bonus. He was the big danger man because he has the ability to score quickly and take the game away from you in a tight situation. However, he got a great delivery from Lasith (Malinga), who was amazing on his return to Test cricket, adding an extra dimension to the bowling attack. The concern then was: Will Lasith run right through them? Murali's dismissal of Harbhajan eased those fears and we were also mindful of the need to protect Lasith against burnout. His body was stiff and his knees were hurting so we could use him only in short spells.

To the credit of Mithun, he batted really well in his 59-minute partnership with VVS (Laxman). We were forced to go back to Lasith and he delivered again. We expected Murali to then get a quick one but he was getting tired, the ball was only getting softer and the pitch was getting slower. At lunch we were not happy. The game was drifting. The coach felt we'd lost our focus and Murali insisted we concentrate now on taking the remaining wickets rather than worrying about another milestone.

After the break our game improved and the run out of VVS was important because we were finally able to bowl at two tailenders. Nevertheless we were also all so nervous for Murali. Finally the chance came my way. I'd been trying to concentrate on watching the ball from his hand at slip, but at the back of your mind you know that if you dropped Murali's 800th wicket you'd end up the most hated man in Sri Lanka. Thankfully it stuck and the celebrations started.

As we carried him around the ground, the emotions started to boil over. It hit me: this was the end for Murali. I would never again stand at slip to him in a Test.