India v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Ahmedabad, 2nd day December 19, 2005

I have seen Irfan grow as a cricketer - Laxman

VVS Laxman and Irfan Pathan played stellar knocks that rescued India from dire straits. Here's what they had to say after a satisfying day's cricket.



Irfan Pathan: 'I enjoyed this innings a little more because we were under a lot of pressure' © Getty Images

VVS Laxman

On his ninth Test century

I am extremely pleased with this knock. There was a lot of pressure out in the middle, and the situation demanded that I play a long innings. It was an anchoring kind of innings, something that I have always wanted to do. I have wanted to deliver when the pressure is on, and I am delighted I did that today.

On whether he preferred to bat at No.3

As far as slots are concerned, I don't mind batting anywhere in the middle-order. I have always maintained that I am ready to bat in any position in the middle-order that the team wants me to. No.3 has been very good for me, I have always batted there from my school days. Luckily, I got a hundred at a crucial stage. Numbers don't really matter at this moment.

On how the pitch played

This morning was much better. Yesterday, there was a lot of moisture on the surface, the ball was gripping and turning. Today, the management decided on the heavy roller which brings the moisture out and dries up the surface. The ball was coming on nicely, but once the effect of the roller wore off, the ball started to grip and bounce like on the first day.

On the Sri Lankan bowling

Particularly after lunch yesterday, it was a difficult batting phase. They bowled well as well, and the track was assisting them. It was important to hang in there, it was not easy to play your strokes straightaway. From now on, it is very important for us that as a team, we don't relax. We want to clean up the tail quickly and put pressure on Sri Lanka.

On Irfan Pathan

Irfan batted really well. He is stroking the ball well. I have seen him grow as an international cricketer, I have seen how much hard work he has put in. If you can have guys coming in at number eight and contributing, it can put pressure on the opposition. Irfan has to be congratulated for the hard work he has put in.

On Pathan's feats this season

I think the turning point was when Pakistan toured here. Till then, things were going smoothly for him, then he picked up an injury and had to fight his way back. That toughened him mentally. Since then, he has become more mature. He is working a lot on his game and is concentrating on becoming a much better cricketer, which he is becoming now.

On Dhoni and the tail

Dhoni's was a very important knock as well. It was essential that he come out and play positively because we needed some runs on the board at that point. I have always enjoyed batting with the lower order. I have confidence in their ability and potential, and I tend to give them the confidence as well. I don't hog the strike because I know they are capable batsmen, and they can deliver for the country.

Irfan Pathan

On the 82 to follow up the 93 in Delhi

I enjoyed both the knocks, though they came in different situations. Both situations were pretty difficult. In Delhi, we had lost the first wicket cheaply, and I had to play my shots. Here, we were 180-odd for six, and the situation demanded that I get more runs and be a bit more positive too. I realised there was no point in just hanging in there and then getting out cheaply. Having said that, I enjoyed this innings a little more because we were under a lot of pressure.

It would have been great if I had got a hundred, but that's how it is. I got a really good ball here, while I played a poor shot in the Delhi game. Importantly, though, both my knocks were very good from the team's point of view, and that's what I am most happy with. It is true that I am performing regularly and scoring more than usual. Importantly, I batted well when the bowling was good. I won't say I batted like a batsman here today, but my batting has improved a lot, and that is pretty satisfying.

On the hype about him being Indian cricket's future

I tend not to listen to all that. I know that I need to keep my feet on the ground. The most important thing is not to worry about the results, but to keep focusing on what you do, and that is helping me a great deal.

Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo