India v West Indies, 2nd Test, Kolkata, 2nd day November 15, 2011

'It was a relief to get a hundred' - Laxman


Many modern coaches speak of the importance of visualisation. VVS Laxman doesn't need to imagine things when he arrives at Eden Gardens. He just needs to tap into the memory bank and recall the greatest innings in India's cricket history. Whatever he does, it works. This was his fifth century in 10 Kolkata Tests. No one apart from Donald Bradman (128.53 at the MCG) and Greg Chappell (111.77 at The Gabba) averages more at a venue where they have batted at least ten times, than Laxman at Eden (110.63).

"I have always enjoyed batting at the Eden Gardens," he said after the second day's play. "It's a great ground with a lot of history. Even though there were not a lot at this Test match, the spectators make it special."

For such a gifted batsman, Laxman would be the first to admit that he could have made bigger scores. This was his first century since August 2010. "It was a relief to get a hundred," he said. "The last hundred I got was against Sri Lanka in the last Test match at P Sara Oval where the team was under tremendous pressure. After that, I have played knocks in pressure situations. Luckily, in this Test match, Sehwag and Gautam gave us a good start, and Rahul and Sachin had a good partnership.

"When I went in to bat, the position wasn't very challenging but it was important for us to build a partnership at that stage and that's what Rahul and I tried to do. It was also important to get a big score in the first innings especially seeing the nature of the wicket, which will deteriorate on the third and fourth days. Even though I had some valuable 50s under my belt, it is always satisfying to get a hundred."

His best efforts in that 15-month period between tons came at Mohali and Kingsmead. The first inspired a remarkable one-wicket win against Australia, while the second was a matchless 96 in conditions that no other batsman could master. When the going's good though, Laxman hasn't always thrived, and he admitted as much.

"When Paddy Upton was the mental conditioning coach, we tried various strategies to get the best out of me, especially in a situation where the team is not under a lot of pressure," he said. "This is the first time in a long time where the team has not been in a difficult or challenging position and I have gone and got a hundred."

Thoughts of a double-hundred were quickly scotched as the light waned in the afternoon, and he had no hesitation in walking off with an unbeaten 176 to his name. "The light was fading, especially after MS [Dhoni] got out," he said. "We wanted to bowl at least 20 to 22 overs at the West Indies this evening, that's why we declared when we did."

The declaration was made possible by a stunning onslaught from Dhoni, who bludgeoned 116 runs in an extended second session in which India rattled 180 runs. Laxman did the sensible thing and picked off as many singles as he could, watching from the bowler's end as Dhoni laid waste an exhausted attack.

"Whenever he hits a six, he says he didn't connect the ball," said Laxman with a big grin on his face. "I just start laughing because he easily clears the boundary. In fact even in the last Test match here against South Africa, we had a similar partnership where both of us remained unbeaten. It was the same today.

"When we needed quick runs, it was easy for me because Dhoni was at the other side and common sense says you take a single and give him as much strike as possible because he is definitely a cleaner hitter than me. It's always great to see Dhoni [batting]. He is a brilliant batsman, he puts the bowlers under pressure right from the word go."

Laxman's innings spanned 391 minutes and given the problems he's had with his back in recent years, he was pleased to have emerged from it with little discomfort. He did cramp up after playing a pull shot, but credited the physio and trainer for his improved fitness levels.

If there was a hint of disappointment, it was at the sparse turnout, at a ground renowned for vociferous and intimidating crowds. "We always felt that Kolkata was one place where you had a lot of support for Test match cricket," he said. "It's quite strange, I am not sure what the exact reason behind that is, but as I said earlier, it's always a great feeling playing here. Whenever I come here, all of you remind me about the 2001 Test match. That gives a lot of inspiration to me and all the guys who were involved in that game."

Light permitting, Laxman was confident that India could make scoreboard pressure tell over the coming days. "The wicket is already turning and there is good bounce for the spinners," he said. "Hopefully, our bowlers can bowl in the right areas and we can win the game."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricinfouser on November 16, 2011, 18:04 GMT

    lucky hundred by laxman against west indies

  • Nitin on November 16, 2011, 8:47 GMT

    @spin_king: Read the comments below my post and then you will get to know why I said that ;)

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Laxman absoultely fantastic when he plays wristy shots... He is master of those at present. The earlier one to be Azharhuddin,role model of VVS. You Aussies remeber the incident of your Prime Minister coming to watch Laxman's batting rather than Aussies players performance during 2003-04 series. He contributes a lot to the team with his decent knocks always. His match winnings knocks against Aussies speaks a lot!!! Expecting a thrasing by SA on Kangaroos tomorrow.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    Dinesh Kaneria of Pakistan was the last bowler who able to take wicket of VVS Laxman at Eden Gardens way back in March 2005. Since then VVS Laxman is unbelieveable at Eden-Gardens.

    In his last 3 innings he scored total of 431 runs in 718 balls with the help of 43 boundries. Practically his average is infinity as he was not out in last 3 matches he played at Kolkota.

    Colonial name of the Eden Gardens should be renamed as Laxman Vatika. ;-) It is more appropriate and swadeshi too...

  • jack on November 16, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    @Full-Blooded-Wallop, although i agree with you that these subcontinental pitches are spinner friendly not flat, i have to say i disagree on your comment on ponting, ponting in his prime was one of the best batsmen in the world, way better than gambhir could ever be, he was up there with the best batsmen of this era (tendulkar, dravid, ponting, kallis, sangakarra)

  • swapnil on November 16, 2011, 5:18 GMT

    @RandyOZ Even Ponting wudnt say he is better than Sachin..he is finding it difficult to score at the age of 36...Sachin is the greatest ever batsman since world war cricketer in history has been more charismatic, crowd pulling and loved by people than SRT..he doesnt require any certificates from any tom dick and harry like you...His greatest certificate is given by Sir Don any other guy commentating about SRT is worthless and has little value..and we do not need any certificates for a guy who has played for 22 years at the highest level for my country and never let me is the case with Wall and Laxman who have always played with dignity and passion..

  • Senthil on November 16, 2011, 5:01 GMT

    This guy is just incredible. Getting any century at all in his batting position is gold to the team. And how beautiful his batting is! I can hear the Aussies going, "Oh man! Here he comes again".

  • Satish on November 16, 2011, 4:28 GMT

    @RandyOZ : I would suggest you and your friends to watch the match now.. LUNCH DAY-3.. WI on the verge of getting all out.. Spinners pick 3 but Yadav picked 3 too.. You guys say this pitch kill test cricket? Feather bed? Are you guysinsulting a team of 11? Come with your home team and see the result.. Even in last tour by Aus to India, they gave away 400+ in first innings but did produce results in both the matches.. The tests in India are also more result oriented these days.. Scoring on Eng, Aus and WI pitches alone are not the one which is counted as challenging!!

  • Mradul on November 16, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    @RandyOZ: Absolutely spot on mate. By the way what's the score that Aussies managed on lively pitches? 47 is it? How much did they manage on Flat Indian pitches, do i hear no wins and 4 losses in last 6 Tests? Aussies lost 3-1 to England on their home ground, i guess that's a matter of pride for Aussies else they wouldn't comment about India's loss to England in England. Supporters of a team which was out for 47 should look at their own team's performance before commenting on others.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Strange comments on VVS... Making tons alone doesnt make any big contribution, it should be a vital point in team's win.... He is pillar for Indian wins with lot of his 50+ scores... VVS is not once in a blue moon contributor, he fails once in a blue boon but few silly cowards keep pointing on that only. In last 12 months his only failure is in England. A master class team player and not a man looking for personal records. All Australians, first respond to your 47 allout Vs SA first and talk about Indian Team.

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