Kolkata: Sachin Tendulkar and Venkatsai Laxman put on a record 214 for the fifth wicket as the third and final Test between India and the West Indies headed for a draw on Sunday.
Tendulkar slammed a stroke-filled 176 and Laxman a solid 111 not out as India reached 369 for 5 at tea on the fifth and last day at the Eden Gardens. The host team was 230 runs ahead with five wickets in hand. India's previous best for the fifth wicket against the West Indies was 204 between Sunil Gavaskar and Brijesh Patel at Port-of-Spain in Trinidad. Laxman completed his fourth Test hundred in the post-lunch session when he pulled off spinner Carl Hooper for a four. He has so far struck 12 boundaries in his 304- ball knock. This was his second successive ton at this venue, having compiled an Indian record 281 against Steve Waugh's Australians in his previous match last year. Tendulkar played a major role in steering India to safety with his 31st Test century as he produced a big knock when his team needed it most. India, trailing by 139 runs on first innings, was reeling at 87 for 4 on Saturday morning before Tendulkar masterminded his team's escape with a high-quality knock under pressure. When Tendulkar got out on Sunday afternoon, India was 162 runs ahead with five wickets in hand and only two sessions to go. The master batsmen fell in the second over after lunch, but not before silencing his critics who had begun to doubt his ability to play a long innings in crisis. Tendulkar smashed 26 fours in his 299-ball knock before slashing fast bowler Cameron Cuffy to Chris Gayle at point. He also overshadowed Laxman with his amazing stroke-play, demoralising the West Indian bowlers with his knack of finding gaps and hitting boundaries even off good deliveries. Their big stand shattered West Indies skipper Carl Hooper's hopes of salvaging pride with a consolation victory in this match. India had already clinched a three-Test series with victories in the first two matches at Mumbai and Chennai. The West Indies desperately needed an early breakthrough to put pressure on India, but was denied success by Tendulkar and Laxman who batted positively in the extended 150-minute morning session. Tendulkar played attacking cricket to ease the pressure on India, who was just 56 runs ahead when play resumed. His aggressive batting helped the hosts add 104 to its overnight total of 195 for 4 in the first session. The West Indies came across an opportunity to break the stand in the morning session when Tendulkar slashed paceman Jermaine Lawson to point where a diving Gayle failed to hold the ball after having got his hands to it. The batsman was then on 171 in a total of 290. Tendulkar, 114 overnight, was the first to go for shots in order to seize the initiative from the tourists as he drove the fast bowlers firmly and fluently on both sides of the wicket. He did not spare Hooper either, pulling and then square-driving for two successive fours. He reached his 150 when he steered Cuffy past lone-slip Hooper for his 23rd boundary. Laxman offered a chance on 81 but lone-slip Shivnarine Chanderpaul dropped the catch off part-time spinner Gayle. He completed his half-century in style as he on-drove fast bowler Darren Powell for a four and then went on from strength to strength to ensure Tendulkar's brilliant effort did not go waste.
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