New Delhi:It seems Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra's Olympic gold came a bit too late to inspire the Indian cricket team in Sri Lanka, who lost the final Test and consequently the series 2-1 to the hosts on Monday.
In reply to India's first innings total 249, Sri Lanka made 396 and took a lead of 147 runs. India, fighting with injuries in their second innings, failed to show much resistance and managed to take an insufficient lead of 122. The islanders achieved the target in 33.1 overs losing just two wickets.
With Ishant injured, India took the field with one bowler less and a very small target to defend. A couple of early wickets did raise some hopes when Harbhajan Singh bowled out Michael Vandort for 8 runs and Zaheer Khan dismissed first innings centurion Kumar Sangakkara for 4 runs. But Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Malinda Warnapura slammed unbeaten fifties to steer their side to victory with ease. Sangakkara for his knock of 144 runs got the 'Man of the Match' award.
Earlier in the day, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid consolidated India's innings and everyone hoped for an Eden Gardens repeat. The duo hit fifties but then Dravid fell to Mendis for 68 runs. He added 85 runs with Laxman for the sixth wicket. Laxman remained unbeaten on 61 as the tail-enders failed to extend him any support down the Hyderabadi batsman to extend the lead. Harbhajan Singh contributed 26 runs but all these efforts were not enough to put India in a commanding position.
India, who have not won a Test series in Sri Lanka for last fifteen years, had lost the first Test in Colombo but they completed the second Test triumphantly in Galle. However, in the final Test, India failed to capitalize the starts by openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir as their middle order - Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman - struggled to score freely.
Sri Lankan spin duo of Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis made life miserable for the Indians. Mendis deserves a special mention as he emerged as the highest wicket-taker of the series with 26 scalps. He also broke the record of maximum wickets by any bowler in his debut Test series.