Somebody please get V.V.S. Laxman a dictionary. He needs to be sat down and told that once-in-a-lifetime knocks are not supposed to be played more than once in a lifetime! Not after that 281. And you definitely don’t do it twice in 2 tests running. On 2 difficult pitches, against 2 competitive attacks, and on either occasion, a good strike rate & a bad back. At Mohali, he even overcame the absence of pedigreed company.
Any literature on Laxman is under obligation to make special mention of his record against the Aussies. With due respect to Messrs Border & Gavaskar, the marquee standing of the eponymous trophy is due in no small measure to Laxman. In recent times, India has been served well by Sehwag running away with the game in the first dig (while batting first), with Dravid & Tendulkar providing sound consolidation. Laxman reserves his best for later, the 2nd, the 3rd & the 4th innings.
Allow me to indulge in a sample of Indian victories against the Aussies over the last decade featuring Laxman specials. Starting with the 2nd innings, Dravid’s moment in the sun was put to shade when the Hyderabadi illuminated the Adelaide Oval in 2003 with his radiant brilliance. The 3rd innings of a Test belongs to him, as the theatre does to Naseeruddin Shah. On a Wankhede pitch with more spite than a spurned maiden, Laxman conjured 69 miracles. As with most of his teasing cameos on tricky surfaces, he seemed to be performing a ballet on a different plane. The veneer of pristine virginity in his art often facades the sheathing of steel underneath, an exception being the famous Perth victory. Bartering silk with sinew, and sacrificing finesse for fibre, his 79 was pretty much the margin of victory. And oh of course, the epic at Eden Gardens…enough said. The Chennai Test of the same series set a precedent for the latest 4th innings effort; his final day 66 almost sealed the deal, before it was terminated abruptly by a Mark Waugh blinder.
Laxman has taken people’s minds off Ram. And Rajnikanth! No mean feat this.
My previous post is testimony to my theory that in Test matches with high first innings totals, with the team batting second finishing slightly behind, the 3rd innings usually witnesses a jittery collapse, facilitating a victory for the team batting last. A short list of such instances (by no means exhausting):
- 3rd Test: India v Australia at Bangalore, 25-28 March 1998
- 2nd Test: Australia v India at Adelaide – Dec 12-16, 2003
- 2nd Test: Australia v England at Adelaide – Dec 1-5, 2006
- 3rd Test: South Africa v India at Cape Town – Jan 2-6, 2007
Thanks to Laxman, the Mohali Test proved to be yet another case in point for my theory. But only just.
-i3j3Guest (TS Kartik)