Zeecric Bureau/Sudeshna Guha Roy
Colombo: A stupendous 103-run knock by VVS Laxman guided India to a series levelling victory as they won the third and the final Test against Sri Lanka by 5 wickets here at P Sara Oval on Saturday.
Laxman held his nerve throughout the concluding day as he first built a 109-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar to lead India to a commanding position, and then played the concluding 87-run innings with Suresh Raina to help his team clinch a face-saving victory in the island.
The triumph helped India end the three-match series with a 1-1 draw.
Chasing 257 runs in the second innings, India suffered an early blow as Suraj Randiv dismissed night-watchman Ishant Sharma for a mere score of 4.
However, Tendulkar and Laxman played steadily thereafter to take India to a very comfortable situation.
Tendulkar came up with his 56th Test fifty as India went for lunch with their scorecard reading 145/4. Post lunch, the Tendulkar-Laxman duo put up a remarkable 109-run fifth wicket partnership that changed the flow of the game altogether.
When the going gets tough, Randiv gets going! That is exactly what happened to Sri Lanka as Randiv dismissed Tendulkar (54) to claim his maiden five-wicket haul.
After Tendulkar’s dismissal, the onus fell on Laxman to further lead the campaign.
Laxman slammed a total of 12 boundaries to later clinch his 16th Test century. Alongside, Raina kept him perfect company as he scored 41 runs, with the help of four boundaries and a six, a shot which marked Indian victory on Sri Lankan soil.
Randiv had a dream of a second innings as he earlier claimed the wicket of Murali Vijay (27), Virender Sehwag (0) and Rahul Dravid (7) on the fourth day. In the first innings as well, he has Sehwag, Abhimanyu Mithun, Amit Mishra and Ishant Sharma as his victims.
The proceedings of the fifth day started with India resuming their batting campaign from their fourth day’s score of 53/4, requiring 204 more runs to win the match and level the series.