November 3, 2002

Test meanders to tame draw

If it's the Eden Gardens, it seems to be a big hundred for VVS Laxman. The Hyderabadi stylist helped himself to a painfully slow unbeaten 154 as the third and final Test meandered to the tamest of draws. For his part, Sachin Tendulkar missed out on a golden opportunity to score a double hundred, being dismissed by Cuffy for 176. But the little master had the satisfaction of earning the Man of the Match award for his match-saving knock that rescued India from a precarious position of 87/4. Unsurprisingly, Harbhajan Singh's 20 wickets were enough to win him the Man of the Series award.

On the final evening, Laxman struck an unbeaten 154 as India declared their second innings at 471 for eight to salvage a draw in the third and final Test against West Indies, which enabled them to clinch the series 2-0.

The fourth Test hundred of Laxman's career came at his favoured venue - Eden Gardens - after India opted to settle for a draw rather than make a aggressive declaration and push for a whitewash on a wicket that was low and slow.

The visitors, after suffering huge defeats in the first two Tests, had earlier harboured visions of a face-saving win when they took a 139-run first innings lead and reduced India to 87 for four on the fourth day.

But Tendulkar forged a record 214-run fifth wicket partnership with Laxman, who batted with unusual reticence.

Tendulkar, who faced 299 balls in his seven-hour knock peppered with 26 boundaries, strained his hamstring and has been ruled out of the one-day series starting on Wednesday. Punjab left-hander Dinesh Mongia replaces Tendulkar.

Laxman's second century against West Indies followed his Indian record 281 at the ground last year, which lifted India to a series-levelling win over Australia after they had followed on. It was also his second century against the West Indies, after his 130 in the fourth Test at St John's, Antigua in May 2002.