India defeated Sri Lanka by 5 wickets in the third Test at the P Sara Oval to draw the 3-Test Series 1-1. It's Sri Lanka's first loss at this venue since 1994 and is only the fourth test win for India in Sri Lanka. The victory on the final day was engineered by a superb 109-run stand for the fifth wicket between Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman. It turned out to be a match winning one but would not have been possible had Tillakaratne Dilshan held onto a shortleg chance offered by Tendulkar in the morning session.
Resuming the day's play with 204 more runs to win, India had a bad start losing nightwatchman Ishant Sharma flicking Suraj Randiv at mid wicket to reduce the score to 62 for 4. Laxman walked in with the Lankans on top which he reversed in the company of Tendulkar. The experienced duo of Tendulkar and Laxman batted out the rest of the morning session to repair India to 145 for 4. After lunch, Suraj Randiv claimed his fifth wicket when Sachin Tendulkar (54 from 122 balls with 3 fours) gloved his paddle sweep to Prasanna Jayawardene with India needing 86 more to get. Tendulkar's exit brought in the young and dynamic Suresh Raina who caused flutters to begin with but settled down quickly to accelerate India towards victory. VVS Laxman who picked up back spasms during his knock got a runner in Virender Sehwag and with that plenty of runs were stolen because of the better running between the wickets. Laxman cracked some shots as well to finally register a century on Sri Lankan soil, his 16th ton overall. Laxman remained unbeaten on 103 from 149 balls with 12 fours while Suresh Raina finished the match with a six over wide long on to stay unbeaten on 41 from 45 balls.
Suraj Randiv was the lone wicket taker for the hosts taking 5 for 82 in 29 overs. The Man of the Match award was snatched away by VVS Laxman ahead of the likes of Thilan Samaraweera, Suraj Randiv, Sehwag etc. The Player of the Series award went to Virender Sehwag.
Day 4 Report
The third and final Test Match at the P Sara Oval in Colombo is heading towards a nail-biting finish on the last day with India needing 204 more runs to win with 7 wickets in hand. Suraj Randiv playing in only his second Test of his life has rattled up the Indians by taking all the three wickets to fall in the 18 overs before stumps. Randiv started India's downfall by removing Sehwag for a duck (edging a straighter one from round the sticks) in just the second over of the innings. The offie then went onto remove Dravid (chopping a loose backfoot defence onto the stumps) and Murali Vijay (caught at leg slip trying to work a jumping off break off the backfoot). India saw the day through at 53 for 3 with Sachin Tendulkar (11 not out from 22 balls) surviving along with night watchman Ishant Sharma.
Randiv's bowling exploits followed a miraculous 9th wicket partnership of 118 between Thilan Samaraweera (83 from 139 balls with 6 fours) and Ajantha Mendis (who scored a career best of 78 which came in 157 balls with 10 fours and a six). Samaraweera with the help of Lasith Malinga (15) and Mendis bailed out Sri Lanka from a miserable 87 for 7 to 243 for 9! The morning session saw six wickets fall in a heap for the hosts with left arm spinner Pragyan Ojha bowling quite a few unplayable balls. Ojha picked up three wickets this morning - starting with nightwatchman Randiv, Mahela Jayawardene (caught edging a turner) and Sangakkara who got out pulling a near long hop to backward squareleg. Leggie Amit Mishra accelerated the slide with two wickets in two balls when Mathews flicked a full toss to mid wicket and then dishing out a skidder to trap Prasanna Jayawardene infront of middle! Just before lunch, Sehwag got rid of Malinga who went back to a full ball to get out lbw.
The post lunch session turned things around as Samaraweera and Mendis batted out 30 overs to leave India wicketless! It needed the second new ball to dislodge Samaraweera after he gloved a hook down the legside to MS Dhoni off Abhimanyu Mithun. The last man out was Mendis after charging out and hitting Mishra straight to extra covers.
Day 3 Report
Sri Lanka for the first time are feeling the heat in the Test Series after being reduced to 45 for 2 in their second innings. Virender Sehwag was the unlikely star with the ball dismissing both the openers - Tharanga Paranavitana (who edged a turning off break on the backfoot to the keeper) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (caught brilliantly at shortleg by a forward lunging Vijay after getting a bat pad edge to a flick). Kumar Sangakkara is along with night watchman Suraj Randiv at close of play on the third day and will be trying desperately to steer Sri Lanka towards safety. The hosts had to face 16 overs only as the Indian first innings prolonged for a long time.
Resuming on a promising 180 for 2, India soon found itself at 199 for 4 as the overnight pair of Sehwag and Tendulkar got out playing rubbish shots. First to go was Tendulkar (41) in the very first over of the morning, chasing a wide ball from Malinga and only able to edge his cut to the keeper. Sehwag got his 21st test century after that but threw his wicket away when a predetermined lofted shot was spliced towards extra covers because of the extra bounce and sharp grip that Suraj Randiv could get off the surface. Now India was in trouble of conceding a huge lead but the pair of VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina produced one of the best partnerships ever against a high quality bowling attack! The duo batted out positively to keep the scoreboard moving and to cut down the deficit in the process.
The fifth wicket pair for India took the score past 300 before VVS Laxman (56 from 97 balls with 7 fours) threw his wicket away trying to play a cute late cut just a while after Tea. It was a Mendis's delivery from round the sticks that got the edge from Laxman while Mahela Jayawardene at slip held onto the sharp catch. It was a superb partnership of 105 but India was still a long way away from SL's 425. And got into further trouble when a Mendis's delivery stopped onto the bat for Suresh Raina (62 from 111 balls with 10 fours) in a punchy drive to lob up a simple catch to mid wicket. India was looking at the barrel when Skipper MS Dhoni gloved his hook down the legside to a rising ball from Malinga to leave the team at 350 for 7!
Again India was rescued after yet another double blow and this time it was a spirited partnership for the 8th wicket between Abhimanyu Mithun and Amit Mishra! Mithun was sound with his technique and Mishra was adventurous and effective. Both the lower order players missed out on their respective half centuries but they frustrated the Lankans to bail out India from the jail with a stand of 83! Mishra scored 40 from 66 balls and Mithun notched up a career best of 46 from 77 balls. India was bowled out in the 107th over for 436 which meant that it was a slender lead of 11 runs for the visitors. Suraj Randiv finished with 4 for 80 for the hosts.
Day 2 Report
Virender Sehwag cracked an unbeaten 97 in just 87 balls (with 17 fours) to power India to a smashing 180 for 2 in 35 overs by Stumps on Day 2. The tourists after restricting Sri Lanka to 425 have cut the deficit down to 245 runs even before Sangakkara could get his bowling and fielding combinations right. While the Sri Lankan batsmen battled it out against the seaming and turning ball, their counterparts just attacked the bowling from the outset to keep the scoreboard racing. Sri Lanka took as many as 138 overs to post 428 at a slowish run rate of 3.07. India on the other hand has taken the match fast forward with a run rate of 5.14 in the 35 overs of batting.
Earlier in the day, Thilan Samaraweera batted right till the end of the Lankan innings to stay unbeaten on 137 (from 288 balls with 12 fours and a six). He got a crucial partnership of 89 for the fifth wicket with his overnight partner Angelo Mathews (45). The Lankan tail did not wag enough and Samaraweera was stranded towards the end. Pragyan Ojha bowled exceedingly well to finish with a career best of 4 for 115 in 46 overs. Ishant Sharma who got plenty of nip off the pitch claimed 3 for 72 in 23 overs.
The Indian innings got an early blow when Murali Vijay drove early to be caught at extra covers off Lasith Malinga in the 11th over. One drop Rahul Dravid joined Sehwag and batted in an aggressive manner to score five boundaries before falling across the line in a flick shot to Mathews in the 18th over. Dravid got a start to score 23 in 26 balls but failed to convert it into a bigger score. The inform Sachin Tendulkar saw through the rest of the day's play by counter punching the bowlers along with Sehwag. Sachin moved onto an unbeaten 40 from 66 balls (with 5 fours) while Sehwag will have to spend the night waiting on 97. The Indians have been troubled though by one bowler - Suraj Randiv who is getting the ball to turn and jump awkwardly.
Day 1 Report
Sri Lanka had the better of India on the first day’s play at the P Sara Oval at 293 for 4 after winning the toss and batting first on a sportive pitch. Though the Indian bowlers got enough response from the pitch whether it was seam movement, turn or bounce, it was the Sri Lankan batsmen who defied them to steer the hosts to safety atleast on the opening day through three half centurions.
Ishant Sharma provided an early breakthrough by luring the inform Tharanga Paranavitana into a false drive in the 4th over itself. India had the opportunity to get the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara pretty early as well but for Suresh Raina spoiling a regulation catch at second slip off Abhimanyu Mithun's bowling. Sangakkara would go onto become the top scorer with 75 (from 114 balls with 5 fours). The Lankan Skipper added 87 with Dilshan (47) for the second wicket and then 55 for the third wicket with Mahela Jayawardene (56). Pragyan Ojha who got some lovely turn and bounce was lucky to have Sangakkara holing out a slog sweep to long on in the 43rd over but the ball he got Mahela Jayawardene was a very good one. Ojha got the ball to drift in to beat the defences of Mahela and strike the pad infront of the stumps. The former Sri Lankan Skipper was playing for the non-existent turn while it was a straighter one angling in with the arm from the left armer Ojha.
By Stumps, Thilan Samaraweera (65 not out from 143 balls) who had added up 84 runs for the fourth wicket with Mahela, batted out the last phase of the day's play along side Angelo Mathews (26 not out). Bad light had cut short the first day's play to 86.5 overs. India's best moment of the day's play was when Murali Vijay showed great reflexes at silly point to run out a well set Tillakaratne Dilshan just at the stroke of lunch.
Toss and Teams
Sri Lanka have won the toss again and elected to bat first in the third and final Test at the P Sara Oval in Colombo. The hosts have made two changes with pacers Dammika Prasad and Dilhara Fernando making way for Lasith Malinga and Chanaka Welegedara. India are without Harbhajan Singh who was injured in the last Test and are forced to replace him with leggie Amit Mishra. Suresh Raina, who scored a century on debut retains his spot to give no chance to Yuvraj Singh while Gambhir is yet to recover from his injury.