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VVS Laxman fights back!
by Boria Majumdar
Jan 03, 2008
As VVS Laxman was about to enter the nets on the eve of the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground we had a brief eye contact. To be honest, it was one not lasting for more than 5 seconds. In that very brief eye-teraction, if you can call it such, I wished him luck and a happy new year and he gave me a warm smile, one of acknowledgment more than anything else. But that brief exchange was enough for me to demand a few things from one of Indian cricket’s unsung heroes.

To put it bluntly-Laxman, despite being the most successful Indian cricketer against cricket’s best side has hardly been given his due. Yet, every time India has managed to herald a turn around against the world champions over the last decade it has been VVS who has led the fightback. In what is his last tour down under, it was desperate time for India here in Sydney. If the Australians win their sixteenth straight Test, the series will surely be beyond India. On the other hand if the Indians are able to pull one back, it will set up the contest between the champion and the challenger. And to achieve this near miracle, the amicable VVS had to wield the sword, one that had in 2001 reduced the great Shane Warne to being a mere spectator on occasions and on others into a bowler who still had much to learn.

Even in the first Test at the MCG, VVS appeared to be in and comfortable. Unlike Dravid, he was finding the gaps in the first innings and was going fairly convincingly before a Lee snorter unsettled him. In the second innings, he was India’s highest scorer. And at Sydney, Laxman walked into the act when Brett Lee was literally breathing fire. He had just bowled Wasim Jafffer with a ball bowled at a speed of 152 kmph. India was well and truly under the scanner. Even when Laxman finally got out after a superb 109, India wasn’t out of danger. However, that one innings brought back the intensity that was lacking in Melbourne. 19 runs of a Mitchell Johnson over and the fight was on. It may well be that stand out innings that transforms this series into what it was billed as-the champion versus the challenger.

As I write this piece it is Sachin and Saurav who are out in the middle trying to make the most of the fight that VVS Laxman has injected into a somewhat laid low team. Whether or not they are able to take India to safety will determine how valuable Laxman’s effort eventually was. That’s why cricket is such a fascinating team game. And if India does manage to salvage this Test match, as I have a gut feel they will, Laxman’s effort will go down in history as yet another one from VVS that caused a real Aussie heartbreak. In 2001 he was instrumental in stopping them from reaching Test win number 17, here he might well prove to be their nemesis at 15!

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