Laxman practises on off day
Even as there has been speculation regarding VVS Laxman's retirement, mostly emanating from BCCI sources in India, indications in Australia keep getting stronger that he will play the Adelaide Test. Thursday was the day off for both teams, but Laxman practised in the indoor nets of the Adelaide Oval for close to three hours. The indoor nets are off limits for the press, but Laxman was seen going in with Raghavendra DVGI, the team's throwdown and bowling machine specialist, who has worked with him and other batsmen in the NCA in Bangalore too.
Laxman has been under severe pressure after seven ordinary Tests away from home, which have produced just three fifties. All through his career Laxman has liked playing both against and in Australia, but this trip has got him just 102 runs at an average of 17. Calls for dropping him grew loud after India lost by an innings in Sydney, with former players and experts suggesting that if India had to keep losing, they were better off doing it with youngsters.
India went into Perth with an unchanged batting line-up again, and lost by an innings again. Laxman scored 31 and a duck. The day after Laxman was dismissed for zero, two national dailies in India quoted BCCI officials as suggesting Laxman had been asked to retire or face the axe. After Perth, Laxman has worked hard in the nets, spending a lot of time with coach Duncan Fletcher at the WACA before the team flew to Adelaide on Wednesday.
On Thursday, the day after India reached Adelaide, the players were given time off training. Australia will gather in Adelaide only on Friday. Laxman, though, was back in the nets at around 4pm. If Laxman retains his place, Rohit Sharma will have to wait for his Test debut: Virat Kohli top-scored in both of India's innings in Perth. The only way for both Laxman and Rohit to play is for Rahul Dravid to keep wicket, but to do so in a Test sounds outlandish even for a man of Dravid's commitment.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo