Cricket: Being The 'Very Very Special' Laxman
One of the most difficult things for most of the batsmen in the Indian cricket team throughout the 90’s was to get acknowledged by cricket pundits. Since the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar, almost all of them played under his shadow. After all it was Tendulkar who single handedly carried the whole team throughout the decade. Things started to change when India traveled to England in the winters of 1996. Two players made an immediate impact there- Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. Former went onto become the best captain of the country and the latter, one of the greatest test batsman. At about the same time a young boy from Hyderabad was piling on runs in domestic tournaments. He was VVS Laxman. He got his opportunity soon but for the first few years, he failed to justify his immense talent. Then out of nowhere, he played an epic against the mighty Australia at Eden. That inning not only changed the fortunes of Laxman, but also played an important role in changing the mindset of Indian team. No team has challenged Australia like India during their reign at the number one position and no batsman apart from Tendulkar killed the Australian attack like Laxman did.
Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly along with Laxman made the best middle order in the world. Add to this the genius of Virendra Sehwag and you are looking at not only the best but also the fiercest batting line up. Despite achieving so much and doing what he did for his team, Laxman played most of time to cement his place in the team. A career batting average of 47 doesn’t do justice to player of his caliber. No player could have played with tail enders as much Laxman did. On in-numerous occasions, Team India had to rely on his genius to bring them back in the game from a hopeless situation.
Last year, against Australia, he played one of the most memorable innings at Mohali. He scored 70 odd runs in only 80 deliveries and in company of Ishant Sharma (a no. 10 batsman); he took India home from a situation of desperation. He was also the architect of India’s win when they chased down 260 odd runs against Sri Lanka in the last test of the series where he scored a magnificent century. In the process, India went onto become the first team to successfully chase down a target of more than 200 runs in three consecutive tests. He did the same in South Africa. He scored 95 in Durban, where the 2nd highest score in the match was 38. Eventually India went onto win the match. He combined well with the tailenders and registered crucial partnerships with them against New Zealand and again during the recent tour of West Indies. It’s hard to get recognition in an era of Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag and Rahul Dravid but Laxman is now getting his due credit. He is an honest servant of Indian cricket and deserves more than what he has got. And yes, he is indeed ‘Very Very Special’.
And as Harsha Bhogle describes the man,
Always the Artist, never the Superstar.
Edited By: Ambuj Gupta