Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Special Hyderabadi Biriyani – Wristy & Willowy Wizard

1996 was a special year of producing cricketing stalwarts in world cricket. To earn a test cap during the nineties wasn’t so easy. The quality of cricket was match with style and class, precision and temperament.
If it was on June- 1996, for Rahul Dravid & Sourav Ganguly. Then Nov - 1996 goes to third stalwart of Indian Cricket – VVS (Very Very Special) Laxman - The great grand nephew of Dr. S Radhakrishnan, former President of India.

He made his international debut against the power packed Proteas side, with a match winning performance of 52 runs in the 2nd innings on a juicy wicket exploited by the seamers.

Consistency was never Laxman's forte in his early years, and despite becoming far more reliable in the last few years, he has generally reserved his best performances for crunch situations.

Three situations in which Laxman loves batting: when the team's in a crisis, against Australia, and in the second innings.

Love with Eden Gardens

Laxman has scored 5 centuries 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).

Most of us remember his 281 against the mighty Aussies during the spring of 2001 at Eden Gardens, when he clobbered Steve Waugh's men all over the park. Shane Warne even tried to pitch his deliveries into the footmarks outside leg stump at the time when the pitch was taking significant turn, and to negate Laxman's free scoring. However, such was Laxman's play that he consistently drove the ball through long on for boundaries against the spin, something that is considered to be technically dangerous.

Even though the sublime 281 was turning point in his career, he learnt the art of winning matches even before that. His international debut, which I mentioned earlier, is a classic example.

So where did this all started?

Youth Career:
Laxman made his Under-19 debut for India against Australia in February 1994; Batting at six, he made 88* in his debut innings against a bowling attack that consisted of Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, both of who were making their debuts too.

Domestic Circuit:
Laxman owes Hyderabad cricket a lot, and vice versa. It is not just the supple wrists he has inherited. He  says he learned to play well under pressure because of his early days in Hyderabad. He was their main batsman when Mohammad Azharuddin was away on India duty, and he says he learned to be responsible for the team. Hyderabad, in turn, gave him seniors he could look up to, and local competition he could relish.

He has been widely criticized as a slow runner between the wickets and he is one of the few players who have played 100 Tests but have never played in the Cricket World Cup.

But VVS is definitely a permanent trade mark term in cricket for now on. Very Very Special Laxman. He is too good a batsman under pressure against any team…

I was lucky to pose with him at my friend’s wedding!! --- Sorry guys bad quality pic...


"If you get Dravid, great. If you get Sachin, brilliant. If you get Laxman, it's a miracle." Brett Lee repeats the words of wisdom of his former captain, Steve Waugh

(originally published in

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