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Competition for a slot in the batting line-up of Indian team was never more fierce than the 2000s, when the likes of illustrious batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, not to mention youngsters Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh. VVS Laxman would gladly attest. And yet, the man from Hyderabad, the one with the delicate wrists, who came to be nicknamed ‘Very Very Special’, Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman persevered for a place, with the hope that one fine day, his perseverance would pay.
He was touted as the natural successor to Azharuddin, their batting styles eerily similar to the eyes of many. But, his chance was not forthcoming. Even when he did get the odd chance, he would play in all sorts of positions, five, six, not allowing him to settle. He scored 167 against an Australian attack that brought him some recognition, still his position was not warranted in the Indian team. And then came the innings that changed it all – the 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens! What an innings that was. Every true Indian cricket fan would remember his delicate on-drives, his crisp cover drives, the pulls, the straight drives, the down-the-wicket loft to the spinners – it was a delight to behold.
Laxman went on to cement his place in the Indian team, and become an integral part of a feared batting line-up that would dominate run-scoring charts all over the world. Though, he missed out on all the World Cups India participated in, partly because he was never considered a fit ODI batsman, he went on to demonstrate his colossal potential in the longer formats of the game. Often an underrated and taken-for-granted, he was the brain behind the scenes, just going about his job without much fuss, always a reliable customer in the line-up. Overshadowed by some of his more illustrious peers, he carved his own niche and brand of batting and stuck to it.
VVS Laxman had a special liking for Kangaroos. He would have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Such was his appetite. It may be his time to retire, but on behalf of all true Indian cricket lovers, I would like to say this- “VVS, you have a Very Very Special place in our memory.”