VVS Laxman is considered one of the best Test batsmen India have ever produced. The wristy Hyderabadi had an elegant way of playing. Arguably, he is the most elegant batsman on the on side. His on drives still give goosebumps. He would never hit the ball too hard. But he would give enough force to the ball that it would cross the boundary. He was fielders’ nightmare. He would hit the ball in such a way that the fielder would think he could catch the ball. But the ball would win the race ultimately.
He has another distinction. When Australia was dominating world cricket, VVS Laxman was dominating the Australians. He has a great record against Australia. Out of his 17 hundreds, Laxman scored 6 against them. Out of the 6, 4 were scored on Australian soil. This is no ordinary achievement as the Australians in Laxman’s time were a formidable bowling unit. The Australian bowling unit boasted of Glenn Mcgrath, Shane Warna, Jason Gillespie, Damien Fleming who are still considered among the greatest bowlers who ever lived.
After the 1999 World Cup, the Australians remained invincible in both ODIs and Test matches. The golden era of Australian cricket continued for a decade. But, India stopped the Australian juggernaut led by the charismatic captain Steve Waugh. Australia was touring India in 2001. India had lost the first Test match in a humiliating fashion. In Kolkata Test also, India were dismissed for a paltry total of 171 runs in the second innings. Australia had made 445 runs in the first innings and had forced a follow-on on India.
In the third innings also, the top-order failed again miserably. India were on the verge of another humiliating loss. But, that was not to happen. History was to be made. Laxman was destined to be a legend.
VVS Laxman came to the crease and only left when India had the match in their grip. VVS Laxman scored 281 runs. He was well supported by Rahul Dravid who scored 180 runs. Together they extricated the team from a dire situation. India went on to score 657 runs. ‘Turbonator’ Harbhajan Singh did the rest in the fourth innings. India won the match by 171 runs. They won the third match also to clinch the series 2-1. With the win, India ended Australia’s invincibility.
Laxman’s gritty knock of 281 runs is one of the best innings that was ever played by an Indian in Test matches. His innings gave India a belief that we can even defeat the best. Indian cricket never looked back. India are currently world’s number 1 Test side. A big credit for this achievement also goes to Laxman.