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Review on India Get Victory for Laxman guidesVenkatsai Laxman defied a back injury to make an unbeaten 73 as India snatched a remarkable one-wicket victory from the jaws of defeat in the opening Test against Australia on Tuesday.
Needing 216 to win, India were facing defeat at 124-8 before Laxman came to his team's rescue with a brave knock under pressure on the fifth and final day, guiding his side to a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
Batting with a runner because of a stiff back, Laxman was well supported by tail-ender Ishant Sharma, who made a defiant 31 in an 81-run stand for the ninth wicket before being trapped leg-before by Ben Hilfenhaus (4-57).
Australia's last chance of winning the match came when paceman Mitchell Johnson began his 17th over to last-man Pragyan Ojha, with India needing six runs to win.
Ojha survived a confident appeal for leg-before and then an overthrow for four runs by substitute fielder Steven Smith considerably eased the pressure on India. The match ended with two leg-byes.
"Our batting collapsed, but Laxman and Ishant played well," said India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"Laxman is a remarkable batsman and whatever field you set, he keeps scoring. He did a very good job for us. For me, it was a very special innings. This game was full of emotions.
"When the game started no one expected we will have a result in four-and-a-half days. The bowlers from both sides have done well to get a result in this game."
Laxman, who averages more than 50 in Tests against Australia, continued to flourish against them and reached his half-century in style off just 48 balls, pulling paceman Hilfenhaus for a four. His 79-ball knock contained eight fours.
India were under tremendous pressure after losing their eighth wicket at 124, but Laxman and Sharma held their nerve to sink Australia's hopes.
Sharma grew in confidence as the match progressed, hitting five fours in his 92-ball knock.
Fast bowler Doug Bollinger, who did not bowl after the lunch break, earlier grabbed two wickets in the morning to keep alive Australia's hopes of winning the match.
Bollinger dismissed Sachin Tendulkar (38), the world's leading run-getter in both Tests and one-day internationals, in his second over.
"It was one of the exciting Test matches I have played. Full credit to India. We tried our best and it was a satisfying effort from the boys," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
"The partnership between Ishant and Laxman was great and it made the difference, I guess. Bollinger's injury probably didn't help us.
"He (Laxman) has been a thorn in our side. I told the boys that his would be the key wicket and that was how it turned out. In some ways, it was more disappointing than our defeat in Kolkata in 2001."
Ponting was referring to India's famous victory after the hosts had been forced to follow-on against Steve Waugh's Australians.
Australia started the day with spin from one end and pace from the other, enjoying success in the seventh over when spinner Nathan Hauritz had nightwatchman Zaheer Khan (10) caught by Michael Clarke at first slip.
Hilfenhaus, who rattled India with three big wickets in the final session on Monday, beat the bat on a few occasions in his opening spell on a wearing track but failed to find the edge.
Tendulkar took no risks and waited patiently for loose deliveries to punish, driving and flicking off-spinner Hauritz for two fours. He later steered Hilfenhaus past gully for another boundary.
Australia celebrated when Tendulkar cut Bollinger to gully, where Michael Hussey took a good catch.
The Indian hit five fours in his 64-ball knock, completing 1,000 Test runs this year in the process.
Pressure became the name of the game when Dhoni walked in to bat, with his team needing 97 to win with only four wickets in hand.
Dhoni did not last long, making only two runs before being caught short of the crease by a direct-hit at the striker's end from Hilfenhaus who ran in from mid-off to throw down the stumps.
The second and final Test starts in Bangalore on October 9.
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