Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss said his players are hoping that retiring spinner Muttiah Muralitharan will bow out of the five-day game with a victory by producing another memorable performance on Thursday, the fifth day of the first Test against India, in Galle.
Muralitharan has already taken six wickets in the match, including a five-for in India's first innings, and is just two scalps short of the 800 mark. Bayliss says he expects the spin wizard to inspire Sri Lanka to victory before walking into Test sunset.
"It was the first time I saw him with a bit of emotion after taking five wickets (today), throwing the arms in the air. So I am sure he is very happy with the way things have gone for him so far. We all hope that he can finish it off tomorrow just as well," Bayliss said at the post-match press conference after the fourth day's play.
Asked to follow-on, the Indians were struggling at 181 for five at close on an eventful penultimate day, still needing 63 runs to avoid the embarrassment of an innings defeat.
Bayliss said even in the final Test of his career, Muralitharan's focus on his game is the same as all these years.
"It depended on Murali when to retire from Test cricket. But the good thing was that he did not want to take it easy in his last Test and was bowling quite hard at the nets to perform well. He bowled as many overs in the nets as he did for the previous 132 Tests. He is the person who knows how his body feels. He has obviously made his decision," the coach said.
The Australian conceded that home conditions had helped the Sri Lankans in having the upper hand over the Indians but added that his boys played better in the Test.
"Well, home conditions do help. It helped India when Sri Lanka toured there. But Sri Lanka worked hard and the players did well. Obviously, we are home side here and used to the conditions," he said.
"Lasith Malinga's return has helped the side. He is the number one fast bowler for us now. His return is a big bonus for us as well," he added.