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Sri Lanka vs India 3rd Test, Day 5: Laxman’s Century Helps India Draw Series

By on August 7, 2010

India 436 (Sehwag 109, Raina 62, Randiv 4-80) and 258 for 5 (Laxman 103*, Tendulkar 54, Randiv 5-82) beat Sri Lanka 425 (Samaraweera 137*, Sangakkara 75, Ojha 4-115) and 267 (Samaraweera 83, Mendis 78) by five wickets…

The final day of the Test series lived up to its billing with India emerging victorious in a gripping contest to level the series and confound those who had doubted their depleted line-up. VVS Laxman battled the pressure and an injured back and, with support from Sachin Tendulkar and Suresh Raina, countered a probing spell from Suraj Randiv and reached his 16th century to seal a memorable victory against the odds – India’s fourth-highest successful chase in Tests.

India needed a recovery each time Laxman stepped out to bat this series, and he delivered once again in what appeared to be his most comfortable outing in a situation that was perhaps the most challenging. The nerves of a tough chase were more evident in his partners, who offered chances and survived moments of edginess, as opposed to Laxman, around whose solidity his team’s hopes centered.

Laxman just seemed to have more time than the rest to play his shots, and picked gaps in the spread-out fields with comfort during a constant search for singles and twos. The wrist worked its charm early in his innings with a couple of delightful drives off Ajantha Mendis on either side of the pitch, and he latched on anything short, pulling Lasith Malinga for two boundaries behind square. Randiv’s extra bounce was neutralised with a quick adaptation to his varying lengths and the use of soft hands. Mendis’ googlies were read early, and Malinga’s slightly wayward line was dominated with flicks, glances and pulls along with a safe negotiation of his intermittent yorkers. As India approached a win, Laxman moved towards his century with sublime timing, easing the spinners through covers, and brought up the landmark with a tickle to fine leg.

Randiv was the most threatening of Sri Lanka’s bowlers and assumed the role of lead spinner in just his second Test. He pushed the ball quick and delivered from a high angle, making him more potent on a track generating bounce. Randiv’s three wickets on the second day had put Sri Lanka ahead and they would have been in a position of control had an initially patchy Tendulkar not been dropped at forward short leg. He attacked from round the wicket, targeted the rough and got the ball to spit from a middle-and-off line. India’s approach throughout the day had been positive and Tendulkar’s hunt for runs, though reflecting his determination to keep India on track, kept Randiv interested. Tendulkar closed the face often, used the paddle, made room to cut Randiv from the stumps and even stepped out of his crease. He inside-edged Randiv to one that spun in but Tillakaratne Dilshan failed to hold on to a straightforward chance, a moment Tendulkar shrugged off soon enough with a lovely off-drive next ball.

Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo

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