JUNE 20, 2023
While it was in the last few years that India saw its golden era as far as bowling, especially pacers, is concerned in Test cricket; as far as the batting unit is concerned, it was certainly the early 2000s where India saw its best period of batting dominance.
The batting unit, which consisted of the explosive opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir alongside the invincible middle-order of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, and Sourav Ganguly, was the most feared in the world and won India matches across the world.
While Tendulkar was the trailblazer as he dominated the sport as a teenager, Dravid and Ganguly made a strong impression by making their debut in the same match in 1996 and making an immediate impact. Ganguly scored a century, while Dravid made a knock of 95.
Laxman was the next to make his mark, although it took him much longer. The right-hander batter had a slow start to his career, but it was a century against Australia in the 1999 series that transformed his career. Although it came in a losing cause, Laxman’s knock of 167 at the Sydney Cricket Ground is fondly remembered by Indian cricket fans.
In an untold story revealed by Teamate, it was an inspiring pep talk by Tendulkar that inspired Laxman’s dramatic turnaround. Prasad revealed that after India’s defeat in the second Test at the MCG; he went for a long walk with Tendulkar and Laxman. Tendulkar, who was the captain at the time, told Laxman that he was his favourite player and blessed with God-given talent.
“I would like to narrate one story here to elaborate on Sachin’s man-management skills. After we lost the first Test match in Adelaide, Sachin, VVS. Laxman, and I went for a walk and a meal. We were discussing how we need to adjust in the remaining matches. Then the conversation veered towards who were our favourite players. I said I liked Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman. Laxman also took a couple of names,” Prasad was quoted saying by Hindustan Times in the book ‘Sachin@50.’
“Then Laxman asked Sachin about his favourite player. Sachin replied: Laxman if you don’t smile and show your teeth, I’ll say you are my favourite player.?’ Laxman started laughing and said Sachin was only making fun of him. Sachin interrupted and added: Laxman, I’ll tell you one thing. You are blessed with so much talent. You can see the ball a split second earlier than me. God has given you exceptional talent which you are not able to understand. God gave me minimum talent, which I am maximising: I have four gears in my batting defence. push, drive and loft. I understand the conditions and use my logic and perform accordingly,” he added.
Tendulkar explained to Laxman that it was his talent that was making him bat irrespective of conditions and leading to his downfall.
“You have so much talent that you can straightaway bat on fourth gear. You see the ball so early that you don’t worry about the conditions. That way, sometimes you click, and sometimes you fail. The day you realise the value of the first three gears, you will become a legend of the game’. After that conversation, I saw a different V.V.S. Laxman. We opened together later in the tour, and he got 167 in the Sydney Test match. After that, there has been no looking back for Laxman,” Prasad further recalled Sachin’s words.
Laxman played a total of 134 Test matches for India, in which he scored 8781 runs at an average of 45.5 with 17 centuries.
Courtesy/Source: Times Now / PTI