Veteran VVS Laxman cracked a fighting unbeaten 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 in Colombo on Saturday.
Laxman defied cramps and anchored the innings brilliantly to notch up his 16th Test hundred, 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.
India, chasing 257 to win, started the final day on 53-3 and lost the wicket of night-watchman Ishant Sharma just three overs into the first session when he was caught by Kumar Sangakkara at mid-wicket off a Suraj Randiv delivery for four.
Tendulkar and Laxman shared 109 runs for the second wicket to tilt the game in India's favor. Tendulkar was out after lunch for a watchful 54 off 122 balls, including three boundaries. Laxman faced 122 balls and hit three boundaries for his 16th test century.
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.
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.
The stylish Hyderabadi scored freely and his fifty, which came while Tendulkar was there at the other end, came off just 81 balls in the post-lunch session.
Joined by the in-form Raina, who scored a century on debut in the drawn second Test, Laxman ensured that the boundaries kept coming for India at regular intervals and he alone collected 12 of them.
The 35-year-old's body, however, started troubling him after he reached 60. Laxman was down on ground in pain before the 52nd over due to a lower back problem, which required the physio's assistance.
But the gritty batsman continued nonetheless with Virender Sehwag as his runner.
He reached his century off 146 deliveries by striking consecutive fours off Mendis in the 68th over.
Raina, on the other hand, rode his luck getting away with some edges that flew over fielders to play his role in the final outcome with a 45-ball 41, which included four boundaries and a six.
Laxman was chosen Man of the Match and Sehwag receive Man of the Series Trophy for his good performance with bat and ball. He scored 348 runs and took 7 wickets in 3 matches. Tendulkar scored highest runs (390) for India with 1 century and 2 half centuries.