Former India pacer Ashish Nehra picked VVS Laxman's knock of 96 against South Africa in the second Test at Durban in 2010 as his 'performance of the decade'. The crucial innings by Laxman helped India win by 87 runs and tie the series 1-1.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Nehra gave a detailed description of why he chose Laxman's knock over Nathan Lyon's eight-for in the Bengaluru Test against India in 2017. According to him, Lyon came very close to being his first choice since he delivered a mesmerizing performance on day one, despite there being a hint of moisture in the surface against a strong Indian batting line-up. He said:
I was torn between between VVS and Nathan Lyon’s 8 for 50 in Bengaluru. Lyon’s was a great performance because it came against Indians batting in India. Importantly, it was the first day of the Test match. Yes, there was a little moisture in the pitch, and because of that he was getting a turn, but that was only for the first hour or 90 minutes. An Australian finger spinner taking eight wickets is something spectacular.
However, in the end, I opted for VVS, because of the circumstances. When India reached Durban, they were behind in the series already. They had lost badly by an innings in Centurion in the first Test.
Nehra hailed the gutsy performance by Laxman as it included batting a majority of his innings with the tail-enders. The small partnerships helped India post a 300-run target which they defended comfortably in the end. He stated,
VVS’ innings was crucial: it was the reason India could set a formidable target of close to 300 for South Africa to chase. The Durban wicket was very tough to bat on, against a South African bowling attack that had Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, who were on top of their game at the time. Other than VVS, nobody barring Viru [Virender Sehwag] even touched 30.
Some might say VVS has played similar innings before. But that innings was very special. He batted along with the tail, including stitching a partnership of about 70 with Zak [Zaheer Khan]. And VVS was the last man to get.
However, India failed to win the series due to Kallis' twin centuries in the last Test and that crushed India's golden chance of winning a Test series in South Africa.
With that innings, not only did India win the Test and level the series, they also came close to winning a Test series in South Africa. They were denied because Jacques Kallis scored a century in each innings in the third Test.Published 31 Dec 2019, 16:41 IST