The journey of Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman becoming Very Very Special Laxman is an interesting one. VVS is one of the finest middle-order batsmen which not just the Indian cricket but the world cricket seems to lack.
Laxman was a special batsman as described by his fellow teammates and witnessed by the world. He was such a master of wrist cricket that he could hit the same delivery on both sides of the pitch. Often described as the most technically gifted batsman, Laxman has provided some jaw-dropping performances and match-winning innings.
He Dismantled Australia like no one, He scored 6 out of his 17 Test centuries and 4 out of 6 ODI’s against the Aussies. His famous innings of 281* at Eden Garden in 2001. His 3 consecutive centuries at the SCG, 200 not out at Delhi in 2008. Here is the journey of a boy from Hyderabad to the head of the National Cricket Academy.
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Birth and Debut
VVS was born in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh to highly educated parents. Laxman got an interest in cricket from an early age as he inspired fellow Hyderabadi Mohammad Azharuddin. Respecting his parent’s educational background Laxman opted for a medical college in undergrad but focused on cricket as he dreamt of playing for the nation.
Laxman debuted for Hyderabad in 1992 against Punjab and scored a duck. Laxman was a visual treat to watch. With his flicks, wrist movement, and fluent style of cricket. However, he was mediocre in his first-class cricket and under -19 cricket. His hunt for one good season to get a call from selectors went on till 1996-97.
Laxman received his maiden call-up for the South African tour in 1996. He debuted against the Proteas in Ahmedabad and scored a half-century in the second innings. Two years later VVS received his ODI cap. In 1998 debuted against Zimbabwe in the Tri-series, although it was a horror debut for him as he was dismissed for a duck.
Early Years and Permanent Spot
The struggle was far from over for him, as he was in and out of the team and whenever received an opportunity, he failed to convert it into a big score. Laxman had to wait to become a permanent member of the squad. He experimented with different batting orders and in search of stability, Laxman returned to Ranji cricket in 1999.
The following season Laxman broke the record for most runs in a Ranji season. He smashed 1415 runs in that season and found himself back in the Indian squad at that too in the middle order.
Laxman scored his maiden test century against Australia at the SCG in 2000, he smashed 167 but India ended up on the losing side. It was now the Aussies touring India, and in the second test in Kolkata, India was trailing by a huge margin and was already on a follow-on. That day, Laxman scored a not-out 281 runs, which is one of the best innings in Test cricket to date.
That innings resulted in a win for India despite a follow-on. This feat has been achieved only thrice in test cricket. This innings made Laxman a permanent member of the squad.
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Peak and Late Career
Following the tour of the Aussies, there was no stopping Laxman, he went on to smash 17 centuries in his career, 6 in the ODI’s, and Australia was his favorite victim. Laxman scored 8,781 runs in 134 tests, averaging 45, which is so good considering he always batted with the bowlers. He contributed fairly to the ODI’s but remains one of the few Indians, to score centuries in ODI yet wasn’t selected in any World Cup Squad.
Another fine inning of Laxman came in October 2010, India was playing Australia in Mohali and needed 216 runs to win. They collapsed to 124/8. From that situation, Laxman scored an 81-run partnership with Ishant Sharma and then added the winning runs with Pragyan Ojha. It was a memorable inning that is fresh to date.
VVS was touring Australia in November 2011, India lost the series 4-0, VVS failed to score a single century in the series, which happened to him for the first time in his career. This humiliating performance from the side, raised questions from the media, asking senior players to retire. Hence, on 18th August 2012, Laxman announced his retirement from cricket.
Post-retirement Laxman is often seen in the commentary box, pitchside reporting, and acting as a pundit. He also joined Sunrisers as their mentor in 2013. Currently, Laxman has been appointed for his role as the head of the director of the National Cricket Academy.
Achievements And honours
Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian award, 2011.
Arjuna Award, by the Government of India in recognition of his outstanding achievement in sports, 2001.
Wisden Cricketer of the Year: 2002.
His innings of 281 against Australia at Kolkata in 2001 was ranked sixth in Wisden's list of 100 great Test innings in the history of the game.
He has the record of taking the most catches (12) by a non-wicketkeeper in a single ODI series. He shares this record with Allan Border.
He along with Rahul Dravid shares the world record for the highest partnership (376 Runs) in 3rd innings of a test match for any wicket during a winning cause.
Laxman was awarded an honorary doctorate on 4 February 2015 by Teri University, New Delhi.