Happy Birthday VVS Laxman – A Very Very Special Batsman

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Happy Birthday VVS Laxman – A Very Very Special Batsman
Happy Birthday VVS Laxman – A Very Very Special Batsman

Former cricketer Vangipurapu Venkata Sai (VVS) Laxman was born on November 1, 1974, in Hyderabad, India. He is the son of Dr. Shantaram and Dr. Satyabhama, both of whom are physicians. He is also the great grand nephew of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, second President of independent India. He is an alumnus of the Little Flower High School, Hyderabad.

Even as he enrolled in a medical school for his undergraduate studies, Laxman opted to pursue cricket as a career.

Laxman made his first-class debut when he played for Hyderabad against Punjab in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final match of 1992–93. After scoring a duck in the first innings and 17 in the second, he was dropped.

He played his maiden match for India under-19 against Australia in February 1994. Coming into bat number six, he scored 88 against a pace attack that comprised Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. In fact, it was a debut game for both of them too. In the other matches of the series also, Laxman scored prolifically, becoming its highest run-getter.

He also toured England with India under-19 in the same year. Although Laxman did not shine in the ODIs, he scored a century in the first Test. In the 1994-95 Duleep Trophy, he was picked up for South Zone squad following his impressive performance for India Under-19,

In the 1994 Ranji Trophy, Laxman amassed 532 runs in five matches with an average of 76. He also scored two tons.

Laxman played his maiden Test against South Africa at Ahmedabad in 1996. He scored a half-century in the second innings. He was in Test squad that toured South Africa in the same year. In the only Test he played there, Laxman did not shine with the bat.

Being a middle-order batsman, he was asked to open in West Indies in 1997. In his first innings as an opener, he scored 64. But his average in that series was only 28. Laxman continued to open for India for almost three years. He tasted modest success.

After being dropped from the Test side, he returned to first-class cricket in 1999. The 1999–2000 season of Ranji Trophy saw Laxman breaking the record for most runs in a Ranji season as he notched up 1415 runs, with eight centuries in 9 games at an average of 108.

He was recalled in India’s Test squad for the Australian tour in January 2000. It was in the third and final Test at Sydney that he signaled his arrival as a proper Test batsman as he scored 167 against an attack spearheaded by Glenn McGrath. Notwithstanding this success, Laxman chose to return to first-class cricket to bat in the middle-order, feeling that he was not cut out to be an opener. After being out for almost a year out of Test cricket, he made it to the Test squad against the touring Australian squad in 2001.

When India lost the first Test against the visitors by ten wickets, Laxman managed to score 20 and 12. In the second Test, however, he touched the height of success. Having scored 58 in the first innings, with India following on, Laxman produced a match-winning knock of 281, with the aid of Rahul Dravid as they put on a partnership of 376 that allowed India to recover and eventually win the Test. This double-hundred was ranked the sixth-best Test innings ever by Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. He scored 65 and 66 in the third Test at Chennai as India won the match and the series 2-1.

Unlike Virender Sehwag or Sachin Tendulkar, he was not a hard hitter in the traditional sense. Laxman was renowned for his wristy play (like his model cricketer Mohd. Azharuddin), besides his copybook style and elegance. He was named one of Wisden’s five Cricketers of the Year of 2002. He was described ‘very very special’ by Australian former cricketer and commentator Ian Chappell during India’s 2003-2004 tour of Australia.

Despite being one of the slowest runners in the Indian squad, he compensated with his placements. He played few good ODI innings but couldn’t cement his place in the shorter format because of his slow running and fielding. He was, however, an outstanding slip fielder. He also represented Lancashire in the English county cricket.

When he scored a double-hundred at Feroz Shah Kotla in 2008 against Australia, he was the second Indian only after Tendulkar to accumulate more than 2000 runs against them. He retired in 2012 after a string of poor performances in England.

He made his T20 debut in the maiden IPL season of 2008 Hyderabad-based Deccan Chargers. He continued to play for them until 2010 before he switched over to Kochi Tuskers in 2011. He did find any takers in the 2012 season of IPL. Following that, Laxman took over as the batting mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2011. Laxman is a regular in the commentary circuit for international cricket matches that are hosted in India. He also continues to be the batting mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad.

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