Colombo : Veteran VVS Laxman cracked a fighting unbeatn 103 as India relied on their experienced batsmen to pull off a five-wicket win in the third and final cricket Test against Sri Lanka to level the series 1-1 here on Saturday.
Laxman defied cramps and anchored the innings brilliantly to notch up his 16th Test hndred, while Sachin Tendulkar (54) and Suresh Raina (41 not out) were the other notable contributors as the visitors overhauled a target of 257 about 10 minutes before the tea break.
Raina clobbered Chanaka Welegedara for a six to hand Sri Lanka there first at P Sara Oval Stadium since August 1994, triggering scenes of celebration in the Indian dressing room.
Chasing 257 on a rather difficult fifth day track, the Indians recovered from early blows suffered yesterday with a 109-run partnership between Laxman and Tendulkar that laid the foundation of the win. But on the flipside, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men could not break the 17-year-old jinx of not winning a series in the island nation.
Resuming the chase from yesterday's 53 for three, India lost night-watchman Ishant Sharma (4) early in the morning.
Ishant was caught at short mid-wicket by Kumar Sangakkara off Suraj Randiv in the morning. Randiv ripped in a flighted loopy delivery around off and middle stump, leaving Ishant bemused who looked shaky right from the start.
Tendulkar and Laxman then took it upon themseleves to steady the ship and steer a successful chase. Tendulkar was the more cautious of the two veteran right-handers taking 106 deliveries to reach his 55th Test half century.
He didn't celebrate much on reaching the milestone but the Indian dressing room was up in applause for another of the iconic batsman's match-winning contributions.
Tendulkar had his share of luck in the early in the innings when he was dropped by Tillakaratne Dilshan at short leg while trying to push a Randiv turner.
The ball had gone off the bat and pad to the right of short-leg and Tendulkar, who was on just 18, heaved a huge sigh of relief when Dilshan spilled the opportunity.
The Indian right-hander attacked Randiv thereafter by charging down the track and driving a shot past the bowler for a boundary.
Laxman, on his part, leaned forward to an Ajantha Mendis delivery from the middle stump and turned it on to the boundary, marking the 50-run partnership between the two which came in 92 balls. PTI