Heroic Laxman sees India home
VVS Laxman overcame back spasms to hit an unbeaten century and guide India to an unlikely five-wicket win in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, plus a 1-1 share of the series.
Chasing 257 for victory, the tourists began the final day on 53 for three and quickly slipped to 62 for four when off-spinner Suraj Randiv made nightwatchman Ishant Sharma his fourth victim.
That brought Laxman to the crease and he added 109 with Sachin Tendulkar, who contributed 54 before completing Randiv’s maiden Test five-for in the bowler’s second Test with 86 still required for victory.
Shortly before then Laxman had called for Virender Sehwag as a runner, but he and Suresh Raina combined to knock off the runs before tea, ending on 103 and 41 respectively.
Randiv, who took nine wickets in the match, claimed 5-82 in 29 second-innings overs.
Needing 204 for victory this morning, India lost Sharma early when he flicked Randiv straight to Kumar Sangakkara at short midwicket.
Having resumed on 11, Tendulkar was reprieved on 18 when Tillakaratne Dilshan dropped a bat-pad catch off Randiv at short-leg.
Tendulkar and Laxman took India past the 100-mark soon after, and the swelling fifth-wicket partnership started causing headaches for the Sri Lanka bowlers as captain Kumar Sangakkara surprisingly under-used Ajantha Mendis and Lasith Malinga.
Tendulkar, playing in his record 169th Test, brought up his fifty in the last over before lunch and Laxman reached the milestone immediately after the break.
However, India were dealt a blow when Tendulkar gloved a sweep to wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.
Raina began dangerously, edging Malinga over Mahela Jayawardene at slip to the third-man boundary, but Laxman prospered despite suffering a sore back.
Raina advanced to the spinners regularly, bringing the target below 50 by lofting Dilshan over midwicket for a boundary.
Laxman and Raina accelerated thereafter and the former brought up his 16th Test century in style, cracking two back-to-back boundaries off Mendis.
Raina finished the match soon after, smashing Chanaka Welegedara over midwicket for six about 15 minutes before tea was due.