VVS Laxman: The King Of Bad Times
It was the winter of 1996. India were up against South Africa in a test match at Motera Stadium, Ahmedabad. India were wobbling at 159 for 5 when the world saw the emergence of a young lad named VVS Laxman. He ended up scoring just 11 runs and followed it up with a patient knock of 51 of 125 balls which comprised of 6 supremely crafted hits to the fence. This gritty innings from a debutant made every one sit and take notice of the talent that this man possessed, a talent which had the rare ability to wriggle the side out of trouble. 15 years have passed since then and the only thing that seems to have rolled on with these years is Laxman’s age. Everything else, his skills,his gritty attitude and technique, all seem to be as good and perfect as ever.
Laxman, at his sublime best, enthralls the mind of his fans and undoubtedly leaves his opponents dazzled. Wristy, willowy and sinuous, Laxman in full flow can give the best of the batsmen a run for their money in terms of stroke play. The greatest asset of this player is his amazing hand-eye co-ordination and the ability to stay calm in adverse situations. As the wall, Rahul Dravid had rightly said:
“Nothing calms you like Laxman.”
He never seems to be afffected by whats going around him. Pressure never takes a toll on this man. No matter how bad a situation the team is in, bring in Laxman and you are guaranteed of a resolute match saving innings. The thing that really differentiates Laxman from other batsmen is the fact that he is at his very best in the face of adversity. He never really counter attacks. He doesn’t coil himself up. He just does one thing – He bats and bats and bats, playing his natural game. Stats don’t bat for this great player as 16 hundreds and 51 half centuries in close to 122 test matches is something which surely can go against his selection in the team. But it is his ability to bind the innings together which has made him an integral part of this star studded batting line up. Looking at this man, one feels if ever there was a stats column which read “Number of Crucial, Match Saving Knocks” then Laxman would have surely breezed past his esteemed colleagues because there have been numerous occasions when a gritty 50 or 60 odd runs from VVS has ended up being a match winning knock. It won’t be an exaggeration if I claim that he is the “Bad Wicket Genius” of team India. No matter how difficiult a wicket is, no matter how tough the opposition is, you would always see Laxman getting his foot in when all other players find it difficult to put bat to ball. That is in true sense a GOD gift.
He is neither a MS Dhoni, who steals a second run with ease nor is he a Jhonty Rhodes, who swoops on the ball with great agility and athleticism. He is what he is - The Crisis Man. His batting skills are beauty personified. He loves winning, he loves to play a major role in taking the team past the finishing line but he certainly is not someone who wants to steal the limelight. The fact that this man has managed to keep himself grounded inspite of being an integral part of so many successful stints speaks volumes of the greatness of this man. As Harsha Bhogle had rightly said:
“When he uses the letter “i” it is only because it is in the middle of the word “win”. He loves winning, he loves contributing to a win, but he is unlikely to be nudging someone to be in the first row of the photograph.”
Laxman is neither as glamorous and stylish as Yuvraj or Kohli nor is he as big a name in international cricket as Sachin Tendulkar. But he is without any doubts, ”VERY VERY SPECIAL”. One can never deny that Laxman has manoeuvred India’s ship out of choppy waters many a times but there have been instances wherein his own place in the team was in a jeopardy. That said,one wonders if that was a boon in disguise because we all know that tougher the situation,greater are the chances of Laxman giving his best. It truly has been a long and successful journey and watching VVS evolve as a player has really been a privilege.
Hats Off to Indian Cricket‘s greatest Saviour!!