A soured evening in Motera

 India had battled away at the Sardar Patel Gujarat stadium on Friday to earn themselves a draw when the final drinks break was taken with only the 15 mandatory overs to follow.

Under the regulations, the game can be called off before the start of the last hour by mutual consent, but with Sachin Tendulkar on 87, it was understandable that the Indians wanted to stay on.

Kumar Sangakkara didn’t do what Zaheer Abbas had done at the Chinnaswamy stadium 26 years back by threatening to take his team off the filed.

Instead, the Sri Lankan captain told his bowlers to make it as difficult as possible for Tendulkar to reach his 43rd Test ton, as a result of which left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara bowled as wide outside off-stump as possible and left-arm spinner Rangana Herath slipped into a negative, outside leg line.

India couldn’t really complain because they had employed the outside leg line with no little regularity during the Sri Lankan first innings here, though Sangakkara’s churlishness under the circumstances was hard to understand.

“It was Sachin’s decision to bat on,” Sangakkara said later. “We asked (at drinks) whether we could stop the match. But he wanted to continue to get his hundred.”
Which his Indian counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni countered with gusto.

“If you are so close to a milestone, any batsman has a right to achieve it,” Dhoni noted. Tendulkar eventually achieved the milestone and threw his hands heavenwards as he celebrated 20 years in international cricket in style, but the moment had been soured slightly, all the same.

Back to September 1983. With the Bangalore Test headed towards a tame draw, Zaheer tried to take his team off the park at the beginning of the mandatory overs even though Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar wanted to bat on with a 28th Test ton beckoning.

It needed the intervention of umpires MV Gothoskar and Swarup Kishen for Pakistan to stay on on the field, because in the absence of mutual consent, Pakistan would have deemed to have forfeited the match.

No such drama here, but avoidable scenes all the same.

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