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VVS Laxman
Architects India's most famous series win in Pakistan


Hyderabad: India beat Pakistan by 40 runs in the fifth and final One-Day International to clinch the series 3-2 thanks to VVS Laxman who came good with a fine 107 to guide India to a healthy total.It was Laxman's first ODI ton against Pakistan

The term 'Hyderabadi stylist' is one that is not new to Indian cricket. First popularised by the late ML Jaisimha, an attacking batsman, the mantle was taken over for many years by Mohammed Azharuddin. Today, VVS Laxman has honourably made the title his own. A spate of high scores in the 1999-2000 Ranji Trophy season, including ten centuries in as many firstclass matches, confirmed Laxman's pedigree and penchant for tall scores.
In Test cricket however, apart from a sparkling 167 against Australia at Sydney in a losing cause, Laxman had done little to show that he was a world-beater. All that changed dramatically when the Australians toured India in early 2001.

Going into the series with a Test average of just under 28, Laxman was not a major cause of concern for the Aussies. In a rare display of attacking yet consistent batting, Laxman notched up 503 runs at an average of over 83. More than the sheer volume of runs scored, it was the manner in which he made his record breaking 281 at Kolkata that will remain etched in memory for years to come. It was a flawless innings under pressure that changed the complexion of a whole series, and signaled the emergence of a new batting hero. Laxman's 281 surpassed Sunil Gavaskar's record innings of 236 not out against West Indies at Madras in 1983 as the highest Test score by an Indian.

Riding on the back of Laxman's efforts, India pulled off a sensational 2-1 win in a closely contested series. Spurred on by the success in Tests, Laxman was a changed man in the onedayers, scoring his maiden ton in the fifth match against the Aussies at Goa. In short, the series against Australia changed Laxman's destiny as a cricketer. Rather, Laxman rewrote Indian cricket's destiny at the expense of the Australians.

Laxman was dropped from the 2003 World Cup Indian squad, largely on the back of his inconsistency in ODI cricket after the Australian series. However, he made his presence felt again with rock-solid batting in the Test series against New Zealand in the latter half of 2003, and earned a return to the ODI squad. Laxman scored heavily in the recent Test series against Australia in Australia, scoring two centuries, and putting on two 300+ run partnerships with Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. Laxman, 300+ for one last time, also answered back his critics, who didn't believe him to be a good ODI cricketer, by scoring three centuries within a week in the VB series, two of which were against Australia.

After a roller-coaster ride in international cricket, it seems as if Laxman has finally settled down, and has started to live upto the title "The Hyderabadi Stylist" which was passed onto him by Mohammed Azharuddin.


Maju Kuriakose
Reachout's News Bureau
-March' 2004

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