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The Very Very Special Test batsman

Last updated on: October 5, 2010 22:34 IST

Laxman has bolstered his reputation

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VVS Laxman has done it again! After guiding India to a thrilling victory in the first against Australia on Tuesday, the Hyderabadi batsman has only bolstered his reputation, says Bikash Mohapatra.

'I told some of guys last night that VVS Laxman would be our biggest worry and that's how it turned out.'

Ricky Ponting, admitting that he anticipated VVS Laxman to fire, soon after the latter helped India eke out a memorable one-wicket win over Australia in the first Test at Mohali on Thursday.

Laxman, who has amassed 875 in 30 innings at an average of 39.77 when batting in the fourth innings, bolstered his reputation further with an unbeaten 73 -- his 46th fifty overall and 11th against Australia -- to ensure what seemed at one stage (at 124 for eight) an improbable win.

- Congratulate VVS... and Team India


Image: VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma celebrate after winning the first Test

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'These wickets really suit his game'

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And the innings assumes greater significance if one considers the fact that he was struggling with back spasms, had struggled while batting in the first essay and was supposed to bat only if required on the fifth day, if the team management was to be believed.

"Injury or no injury, he had missed out in the first innings. I just felt he would make a big contribution," continued Ponting, adding, "These wickets really suit his game, the way he plays.

"I was trying to tell my team not to believe that India is a batsman short."


Image: VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma embrace after the victory

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Laxman relishes playing against the team from Down Under

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It wasn't the first time that Laxman had returned to haunt the Aussies.

A glance at recent cricket history provides enough examples that point out that Laxman relishes playing against the team from Down Under.

If one jogs his memory a bit, he will easily recollect his unbeaten 200 at the Ferozshah Kotla in October, or his 109 at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January that year.

His two other landmarks at the SCG -- a fighting 167 in January 2000 and 178, four years later, were equally memorable, as was his 148 at the Adelaide Oval in December 2003.

And, who can forget that majestic 281 at the Eden Gardens (Kolkata) in March 2001, which remains the highest Test score by an Indian against Australia.


Image: VVS Laxman

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'He has shown time and again what a class player he is'

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In fact, with 2279 runs in 25 matches, Laxman is second on the list of most Test runs scored by an Indian batsman against Australia -- behind Sachin Tendulkar's aggregate of 2884 runs in 30 Tests.

"Yeah, he has been a bit of a thorn in our flesh over the years," admitted Ponting, when asked the question, adding, "He has shown time and again what a class player he is."

Laxman's exploits aren't confined to Australia alone. In fact, in his last Test (prior to Mohali) he scored a gritty 103 not out against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval to not only ensure India win the Test, but also square the series.


Image: VVS Laxman

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'He is simply remarkable'

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India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the first to acknowledge Laxman's contribution to the Indian Test squad.

"VVS is very very special," replied Dhoni, when asked to describe his compatriot. "Whatever field you set up for him, he can rotate the strike and keep hitting the boundaries.

"He always keeps you in the game. He is simply remarkable," added the captain.

Laxman's teammate Zaheer Khan concurred.

"The way he approaches his innings is remarkable," said the left-arm seamer, adding, "He has now done the trick so many times for India.

"He proves all the time why we call him Very Very Special Laxman."


Image: VVS Laxman

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His name will be mentioned among the pantheon of cricketing legends

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To say that Laxman has had a superlative year would be an understatement, and somewhat belittling his achievements.

Let the statistics do the talking then.

In six Tests in 2010 thus far, Laxman aggregates 573 runs (@ 95.50). And that includes two centuries and four fifties.

Less than a month away from what will be his 36th birthday, Laxman may not have many years left in international cricket.

However, the manner in which he is performing in his twilight years, leaves no doubt his name will be mentioned among the pantheon of cricketing legends. If that's not the case already!


Image: VVS Laxman

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