November 23, 2007

VVS. Again.

Mukul Kesavan
VVS Laxman aided the recovery with a delightful knock, India v Pakistan, 1st Test, Delhi, 2nd day, November 23, 2007
 © AFP

I took in a session of the second day of the Delhi Test from a strange angle: very high up in the West Stand and perpendicular to the wicket. The novelty of watching the action side-on (fast bowling seems faster because you can't see the ball once someone like Akhtar lets it go and it's startling to see how far forward batsmen stretch in defence) soon wore off because it was hard to tell why someone was beaten or what the ball was doing.

Wasim Jaffer plays the flick to the square leg boundary as well as any man alive. He brought one off against Akhtar in the first over of the Indian innings and for a fleeting moment he looked like Greg Chappell in his prime, all upright elegance. He hit three more like that, two off Sohail Tanvir and another one off Akhtar and they all went for four. Jaffer is an enigma: it's hard to reconcile the man who plays the grand on-drive and that lordly flick, with the anonymous player who will wait inertly upon events, over after over, whose bat sounds like cracked sheeshum instead of seasoned willow each time he pushes or drives on the off-side. I like him very much: I just wish he'd hurry up and make another hundred so that we can begin to take his place for granted at the top of the order.

Yuvraj strolled into the arena occasionally in his capacity as twelfth man or something. Each time that happened lots of people rushed to the front of the stand and peered down and screamed "Yuvi!" The man in front of me, who stood and obscured the action whenever a shot was played (he'd leap to his feet, adjust himself and press his cell phone to his ear in practiced sequence) complained to his seated friend about Yuvraj's exclusion. Not playing him in Delhi—saalon nein Dilli mein nahin khilaya—seemed to aggravate the injustice done him. I began to feel like an Arsenal fan marooned among Man U maniacs. Yahoos for Yuvraj to the left of me, Lumpen against Laxman behind me. Unwilling to watch VVS make his magic among these brutes, I left the stadium when Tendulkar ran himself out and found myself a sympathetic television set.

The rest, I hope, will be history. Laxman came in when the score was 88 for 4 and inspite of losing Dravid on 93 and Dhoni at 208, he steered India to within a boundary of the Pakistan total by close of play. He was, as he often is in Test matches, the best batsman on show. It is absurd that he bats at six. Kumble has done nearly everything right in his debut as captain. Before the match began he was forthright in his endorsement of Laxman as an automatic selection for the Test team. Now that VVS has vindicated his judgment, the skipper should promote him to five in the batting order, ahead of Ganguly. Number three would be better, but down here in the VVS dugout, we aren't in a hurry. Test cricket's our game: we're used to taking things one day at a time.

Mukul Kesavan is a writer based in New Delhi

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Posted by punter007 on (December 29, 2007, 14:15 GMT)

People don't understand that Laxmans 71 match saving innings in the first test match has raised morale and confidence for upcoming matches, If Laxman did not save the match for India in Delhi they would have lost the test even with gangulay or Yuvraj singh is failing uterly in Australia, Hez Lucky to be playing with Fantastic Four otherwise I strongly believe he does not deserve a place in the test team. Laxman's stats Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s CtSt

Tests 87 142 20 5360 281 43.93 11024 48.62 11 30 740 4 92 0 ODIs 86 83 7 2338 131 30.76 3282 71.23 6 10 222 4 39 0

Yuvraj's Stats

MatInns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s CtSt Tests 21 33 4 1006 169 34.68 1804 55.76 3 3 147 6 22 0 ODIs 195 177 26 5573 139 36.90 6434 86.61 8 34 571 81 62 0

look at those stats and please don't compare Laxman with Yuvraj.

Posted by Sam on (December 24, 2007, 11:39 GMT)

Definately V.V.S.laxman is one of the underrated batsman in the world of cricket.His record against australia shows why we need him for the team. But everytime he used to be the victim to provide place for a young batsman or a bowler. If batsman like ganguly or pathan hit a century every media highlits them,but we cant seen any appreciation on laxmans performance. I think after Dravid,he is the technically pure player in the world.We need many more laxmans and wish he will become the test captain of India after Kumbles retirement.

Posted by Kartik on (December 20, 2007, 5:53 GMT)

I'm not surprised that you'd let Ganguly slip down the order, but he's gone on to prove himself in the Pakistan series..How much longer should he be victimised? If VVS' innings in Delhi saved India, the partnership between Ganguly and Yuvraj saved India from a series levelling loss. On the same pitch, against the same opposition, VVS failed. I'm not implying that he needs to be dropped for that, but your suggestion that he should bat higher than Ganguly, is'nt prudent on current form. Ganguly is probably in the best form of his career and India needs to groom Yuvraj to become India's batting mainstay once the golden quartet retires, which is not quite so far in the future.

Posted by Anonymous on (December 12, 2007, 20:01 GMT)

starting eleven for india on tour of aus for test should be jaffer, yuvraj, dravid, sachin, sourav, laxman, dhoni, kumble, zaher, irfan, (either rp singh or harbhajan or ishant)

This combination bring out most potential of all player which india has and has shown good performance.

Posted by Sriram L on (December 10, 2007, 7:27 GMT)

Mukul, You may be a die-hard VVS fan, but as prashant rightly put it, you need n't indulge yourself in blatant Yuvi bashing to justify your point. Please try to maintain some neutrality in your articles. You can praise VVS for his good innings, but don't make it sound as though he did it all on his own. All of VVSs masterpieces in Indian victories were possible because of some very fine support acts. Dhoni played a very mature innings. I would have VVS ahead of Sourav on any day, but not ahead of Yuvi any longer. Laxman for sure does not know how to play with the tail. Yuvraj can atleast make his presence with the last men, count with some big hitting. In current form, i would have the following in this order : Jaffer,Dravid,Laxman,Tendulkar,Ganguly,Yuvraj,Dhoni,Pathan,Kumble,Zaheer,RP Singh

Posted by Prashant on (December 9, 2007, 20:34 GMT)

Mukul Dude, see I commented 2 weeks before on this blog that to praise VVS you do not have to say bad things to Yuvi, and now you see how Yuvi has turned it around. I would love to see your comments or may be one blog entry circling around Yuvi's innings. You had told Yuvi is a tried and tested failure, tell me how does do you feel when you are made to eat your words?

Posted by raghu on (December 9, 2007, 12:01 GMT)

After watching yet another failure innings from karthik today, it reallu amazes me that viru has not been selected for the tour...As I an chappell sums it up in one of his articles, it is not easyto manage and score the way viru did at the MCG against a decent australian attack... Sure Viru may not be in the form he was, but the key word here is form.... Because Viru still hasnt quite reached the stage where age has taken over him, so he still has the potential... To nearly score double hundreds against ausralia in australia proves the potential and the class of this batsman. Whereas karthik still hasnt proved his potential to these standards though he has played a couple of useful innings.... But scoring double hundreds against an attack like australia in australia and that too in such quick time really shows the pontial of the man... As far as form goes, even karthick has failed , so I would rather give the more dangerous of the two batsmen the chance which clearly is Viru...

Posted by Paul on (December 6, 2007, 11:18 GMT)

Shanthan, said it perfectly, this man never gets his due, because he aint too flashy or doesn't have the killer looks!!! Hope Jaffer also doesn't get his fate.

Yuvi can wait.

Posted by C K Naidu on (December 5, 2007, 7:38 GMT)

No doubt current indian batting line up is a great one, it has sheer class of likes of laxman, sachin, grit and determination of dravis and off late Ganguly to some extent.But according to me what it lacks is flamboyence and dominance, what there used to be with likes of sachin of 90's and Azaharuddin in his prime. it was sad to see laxman fail to dominate in delhi test even if lower down batsman were getting out. Same with Sachin who playes rather sedately off late. Even worse to see Dhoni playing two very sluggish innings with strike rate of not more than 60 when demand of the situation was something else. That is why i believe this is a perfect time for Yuvi to get in the team at number 5 or 6.

Posted by ambik on (December 1, 2007, 16:58 GMT)

Jaff heard you or read your blog ! so now thats one spot done and dusted. Shall we go right to the bottom and find out what do with No. 11 ? He's the other enigma in this team !

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Mukul Kesavan
Mukul Kesavan teaches social history for a living and writes fiction when he can - he is the author of a novel, Looking Through Glass. He's keen on the game but in a non-playing way. With a top score of 14 in neighbourhood cricket and a lively distaste for fast bowling, his credentials for writing about the game are founded on a spectatorial axiom: distance brings perspective. Kesavan's book of cricket - Men in Whitewas published in 2007.

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