India beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets in the third and final test played at P.Sara Oval Stadium. With this win they level the series and have retained the number one spot in Test Cricket in the world. India were hungry to beat Sri Lanka on their ground since August 1994.
Resuming the chase from Friday’s 53 for three, India lost Ishant Sharma for 4 runs in the morning.
Requiring 257 runs to win, the final day belonged exclusively to VVS Luxman who posted 103* scintillating runs off 149 deliveries to ensure victory for India about ten minutes before tea.
Sachin Tendulkar 54 and Suresh Raina 41* played a sheet anchor role in ably supporting Luxman, who batted like a cool lion despite his back pain.
Tendulkar was dismissed caught by Prasanna Jayawardane off Randeev for 54 which came off 122 balls and included three fours.
Suresh Raina batted magnificently with a 45-ball 41, which included four boundaries and a six. This 23-year-old left-hander has created a problem for the selection committee by performing much better than the out of form Yuvraj Singh.
Luxman is a very cool customer and there are no crackers when his goes on the pitch to bat and smoothly comes out after hitting a century. The difficult chase was made easy by Luxman’s temperament.
He got most of his runs in the square leg and fine-leg boundaries areas and pulled Malinga’s short balls with perfect copy book fashion, keeping the ball down on each occassion. His flicks and delectable leg glances were a treat to watch. India inched closer to victory and Luxman to his century, which he got through a leg glance.
The 35-year-old’s body started troubling him after he reached 60 due to a lower back problem, which required the physio’s assistance. But he continued with Virender Sehwag as his runner.
Tendulkar and Laxman then took on the responsibility. Tendulkar reached his 55th Test half century, for which he did not celebrate much but the Indian dressing room was up in applause for his match-winning contribution.
If Randeev bowled very well, picking up 4 wickets for 80 runs, it was Sachin’s genius wherein he closed the face of the bat and used his favourite shot – the paddle sweep – to perfection, though he later succumbed to the sweep shot caught by wicket-keeper when the ball spun and kissed his gloves.
By that time Sachin had given adequate suppoort to Luxman and pushed him towards the goal. Luxman took control of the reigns of India today and ensured victory without further loss.
Sachin Tendulkar too showed that he is still hungry for runs and VVS Laxman, put on that special display just when the team needed it the most.
Raina stepped out and hit Chanaka Welegedara for a six giving victory to India at P Sara Oval Stadium triggering scenes of celebration in the Indian dressing room.
It is India’s fourth-highest successful chase in Tests and they have silenced their critics on the team selection, especially the bowling attack. Pragyaan Pjha and Amit Mishra have proved without an iota of doubt that they can deliver in trying circumstances also. The Indian pace attack needs to be rejuvenated.
For team India, Suresh Raina and Virendra Sehwag deserve special mention as they were in tremendous form all through the series.
|Man of the Match||VVS Luxman – Trophy and US $ 1500|
|Winning team Cheque||M.S.Dhoni -US $1500|
|Royal Stag Player of the Match||Tillan Samarweera – US $ 1500|
|Royal Stag Man of the Series||Virendra Sehwag – US $3000|
|All-rounder of the Series||Virendra Sehwag – US $1500|
|Stylish Player of the Match||Ajanta Mendis-Yamaha Motor Cycle|
|Admired player of the tournament||Virendra Sehwag–Fiat Linea Car|
|Special Award for most capped player||Sachin Tendulkar – Trophy|
|Special Token for contribution to International Cricket||Sachin Tendulkar – Trophy|
|Tournament Trophy||M.S.Dhoni and Kumar Sangakara –Trophy and US $ 7,500|