Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Very Very Special Salute....

SreeNair | 5:25 AM |

One more stalwarts on the bow out.The classy VVS Lakshman ,the largely unsung mega star amidst contemporary superstars has called it a day.

The 37-year-old veteran batsman, the mainstay of India's most famed batting quartet that had the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly in the roll ,has hung up his boots after a sprawling 16 years of international presence for the country.He was a champion batsman and one of the all-time- greatests of the game with abundant elegance and prowess.

"we were expecting him to play till Australia series. It was quite a surprise," a teary-eyed Sailaja his wife said at the press conference ."Definitely. Like other well wishers, we were expecting him to play till the Australian series. His aim was to beat Australia and England in the home series. " She added.

I announce my retirement from international cricket with immediate effect,” the champion batsman declared at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad on Saturday. He bid adieu when he already had his berth secure in the squad for the Test series against low profiled and depleted New Zealand starting on August 23.

He is the second to be lined up in the same year to retire after Rahul Dravid."It was a tough decision to take, I have always listened to my inner conscience. The inner voice is a divine voice, I have always done that right through my career", the sober man announced before the crowd.

VVS Lakshman always kept away from controversies and the one-up

manship congenital in the game.In fact he kept himself ahead of it and his bat made all the talking .He played,enthused and rejoiced in the game as a manifestation of his love for the country and took pride in being part of the game ."I have always kept my country's success and needs ahead of my personal aspirations".He told the audience.

His test debut as International test cricketer was against South Africa at Ahmedabad in 1996 scoring 51 in the second innings as India won by 64 runs. He wore Indian cap in 134 Tests, garnered 8,781 runs at an average of 45.97,hammering 17 hundreds and 56 half-tons. He had his debut in ODI against Zimbabwe at Cuttack, in 1998 and though a truant has played 81 matches with a total of 2,338 runs with an average of 30.76 .He made six 100s with top s core at 131.He played 265 First-Class matches amassing 19,520 runs with an average of 51.5 which included 54 centuries top scoring at 353 runs.

His fielding prowess were mediocre and quiet often came under the radar of cricket pundits.Though not acrobatic and an acclaimed fielder he had a squeaky clean pair of safe hands that pouched on everything that came in ts way.He has 135 Test catches to his credit.

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BCCI president N. Srinivasan rightly says"If a cricketer’s greatness is to be measured in terms of his performances against the best opposition of his time, then Laxman stands right at the top. His record against Australia,the world’s no. 1 team for the better part of his career, speaks for itself."A batsman's mettle is seen when playing against formidable challenges under heavy odds.Against Australia ,he made 2434 runs at an average of 49.67. His indomitable form against the No1 Test teams like Australia ,put India on top in the world ranking of the test playing countries.He made his first test in 2000, when he made 167 against Australia in Sydney. Laxman also scored four of his six ODI tons against the Aussies, although he was casual in the shorter versions of the game. He took out best talents against the Aussies in 2000s, also scoring two hundreds in the 2003-04 series.

VVS excelled in his resilience to strike back under heavy duress to snatch away unforeseen victory from the opponents .At times he acted both as a crisis manager and a match winner. In March 2001, he made a stupendous 281 at Ethen Gardens,in Kolkota amidst the cry for the blood and put on 376 with Rahul Dravid to force an unexpected win against Australia, India having followed on. The Hindu writes "His 281 against Australia at the Eden Gardens is a stuff of legends and that majestic knock has now become a part of cricketing folklore."

This fete was adjudged by Wisden as the sixth greatest Test match innings of all time.
Laxman’s 148 at Adelaide in 2003-04 series came at a crucial juncture and his partnership with Rahul Dravid kept India’s chances alive and the team finally won the Test series.

He glided India to an unimaginable triumph alone, on the wings of his unbeaten 73, sailing home with the No 10 and 11 batsmen at Mohali against Australia in October 2010. in an exemplary show of fortitude and sheer grit,he together with the tail ends showcased a remarkable innings to be indelibly imprinted in the annals of the cricketing history.Chasing 216, when India were 124 for eight, Laxman added 81 runs with Ishant Sharma and then battled for good 20 hearty-wrenching minutes with No.11 Pragyan Ojha to carry home the coveted Test match.

As with all geniuses ,he too was not without his shadowy times. Along with the great contemporaries he also had to take the brunt of the debacles in England and Australia which came in quick succession.

He was a' maverick in the mission 'and won accolades for his on drives with 'supple wrists' endowed and is renowned as a 'touch-artist' of the game.

The hasty decision though not aired aloud so reflects the relationship between the team and its captain .VVS feared that Dhoni was difficult to reach. As Ganguli has remarked;"A skipper should be available for all his players 24 Hours." Yes: we don 't Know "why Dhoni does that".

Perhaps a cricketing irony is that this man has not played the world cup in his long and arduous carrier spanned 16 years.To quote Hindu:"Probably, Laxman was destined to be the ‘George Best of world cricket’ — the finest cricketer of his generation never to have played a World Cup."

The artistic glance of the ball and the innocuous flick of the wrist may not be executed in such ease and elegance.The illustrious player has left back a void which might take long to be filled up.Sachin Tendulkar tweeted: 'When I walk out to play in Hyderabad I will feel a deep void. A void that can never be fulfilled."

The Goliath walks back to the pavilion to unpad ,unhurt, with great degree of satisfaction of having played for his country ,his full youth and potential placed at its alter ,in a very very special way.


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