Laxman, India’s crisis man (Profile)

August 18th, 2012 - 9:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin Tendulkar Hyderabad, Aug 18 (IANS) V.V.S. Laxman has always been a fighter, never known to throw in the towel. He has done things his way, either bashing the Australians to pulp or pulling the curtains down on his glittering career.

His style and panache will be hard to match. There never was a more pleasant sight on a cricket field than the Hyderabadi’s breathtaking touch play. His trademark flick off his wrists would find an off-side ball scorching to the square-leg boundary.

Most of his innings stand out and will be remembered for long, be it the Sydney hundred or the Eden Gardens epic knock. There were any number of innings that may not have fetched him hundreds but they were of immense value to the team as they won them the Tests.

When in full flight, he was a treat and the best of his contemporaries in the India side admitted that they could do little except watch his marvellous batting from the other end.

The stylish strokemaker, who made his Test debut in 1996, played 134 Test matches, scoring 8,781 runs at an average of 45.97, and scored 2,886 runs in 86 One-day internationals.

In his first-class career, he played 265 matches and scored 19,520 runs at an average of 51.50.

The right-handed touch artist hit 17 Test hundreds and six in ODIs. He has scored an incredible 54 centuries and 97 fifties in his first-class career.

The 37-year-old had not been at his best form in the two away Test series in England and Australia, scoring just three 50s.

He averaged 22.75 in England and 19.38 in Australia, prompting some critics to wonder whether it’s time for him to go, taking a long-term view of Indian cricket.

Laxman first hogged the limelight when he smashed 167 against Australia in Sydney in 2000. But his most defining innings, which many rate as the best Test innings by an Indian batsman, came when he scored 281 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001, to take India to victory after being forced to follow on.

Laxman forged a 376-run partnership with Rahul Dravid and turned the tables on the marauding Australians who were on a record run 16 consecutive Test victories.

After the Eden Gardens knock Laxman’s initials V.V.S. came to be known as ‘Very Very Special’. From thereon he made a habit of bailing India out by trouble or steer the side to victory from hopeless situations in the company of the tail-enders.

One of the most memorable winning knocks of his was at Mohali in 2010, when he scored a defiant unbeaten 73 with back spasms against Australia. His gritty batting inspired Ishant Sharma to stay with him and help the side to an exciting victory.

The Hyderabadi became the ‘crisis man’ of Indian cricket.

Laxman, though, was not given the opportunities to create a similar impact in the shorter format of the game. Though he hit six ODI hundreds, four of them coming in one season, he was surprisingly dropped for the 2003 World Cup. He played his last ODI match in 2006 against South Africa at Centurion.

Laxman’s retirement leaves only Sachin Tendulkar among the golden greats of Indian cricket still playing at the highest level after the retirements of Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly and Dravid.

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