Colombo, Aug 7 (IANS): India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team's five-wicket victory over Sri Lanka here Saturday in the series-levelling third cricket Test has vindicated the bowlers, who had come in for much cricticism in the first two Tests.
India had fielded a depleted bowling attack in the absence of spearhead Zaheer Khan in the three-match Test series. An out-of-form Harbhajan Singh only added to their woes, with India losing the first Test by 10 wickets.
The visitors came back strongly to draw the second and the won the third Tests to finish up the series 1-1.
A beaming Dhoni praised the all-round performance of the team.
"It is a great win for us. After the first Test people said our bowling is not good enough, that our batsmen were not stepping up. But we have proved ourselves here," Dhoni said.
"It was a convincing victory for us. The pitch played really well. It had something for batsmen and the bowlers. Our batting plan was to soak up the pressure and (Sachin) Tendulkar and (V.V.S.) Laxman batted really well. When Kookaburra bowl gets old, it becomes difficult for the bowlers."
Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakarra felt their batting in the second innings let them down but was said his team can be proud of their performance.
"We put in a good effort through the series. This game we were found wanting with our batting in the second innings. Full credit to the entire team for the effort. It was great Test wicket. It had the bounce for both spinners and the fast bowlers," Sangakarra said.
"It was great to see the guts shown by Ajantha Mendis. He had to face quite a few blows on his body. Lasith Malinga and Suresh Randiv deserve a special mention. They were fantastic with the ball. All five wickets were taken by Randiv in the second innings. Laxman and Sachin also batted fantastically well."
Man of the match Laxman (103 not out) who with Tendulkar (54) rustled up 109 runs for the fifth wicket to chase down 257-victory target also attributed the win to the bowlers. It was Laxman's first Man of the Match award in Tests since the Trinidad Test in 2002 and only the third of his career.
"It was a great victory for us. It pulled us back in the series. Bowlers on the third day got us back in the game. Sachin and I played good. I really feel proud of my effort today. (Coach) Gary (Kirsten) told me that it is an opportunity for me to win the match for the country. I am really happy that I along with Sachin won the game for India," Laxman said.