A special innings from Laxman - Dhoni
MS Dhoni has hailed the duo of VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma for their match-winning stand of 81 that helped India fight back after being reduced to a seemingly hopeless 124 for 8. Laxman played a decisive role in guiding India to a second successive win while chasing, following up his unbeaten century against Sri Lanka at the P Sara Oval with 73, also undefeated, to seal a one-wicket win and spark off wild celebrations.
"VVS was really remarkable in this match. He helped the team overcome a batting collapse. Laxman remained at the crease, hit boundaries, rotated the strike and kept the scoreboard moving all the time," Dhoni said after the match. "For me, it was a very special innings by Laxman."
Laxman's performance stood out as he played with a sore back, a niggle that forced him to drop down the order in the first innings and bat with a runner in the second. He was supported admirably by Ishant, who scored a determined 31 to revive India's hopes after Australia's seamers had put their team in sight of a win. "Ishant showed good character when the batting collapse took place. It was no doubt a big task. Only two-three batsmen remained and Laxman was on the other end. But they supported Laxman well and that worked for us," Dhoni said. "Our heart rate went up. Nobody could imagine such an ending in four-and-a-half days when the match started."
India's target of 216 was not the most intimidating but Australia's fast bowlers hit back on the fourth evening to limit India to 55 for 4, and continued to make steady inroads on the final day to leave the hosts reeling. Ricky Ponting, the Australia captain, rued the unavailability of Doug Bollinger - who had to leave the field with abdominal stiffness - against the lower order. "We failed to take a couple of wickets quickly," he said. "Bollinger's injury probably didn't help us there; we needed a fresh bowler to give it a shake but that's the game.
"Full credit to India; they outplayed us today. We tried our best. It was satisfying effort from the boys. I told them to just take the scorecard out of the mind. The partnership between Ishant and Laxman was great and it made the difference."