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March 13, 2001

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The Rediff Cricket Interview/V V S Laxman

'It's one of the best innings I have played in my life'

His heavy scoring in domestic circuit notwithstanding, V V S Laxman has often struggled to find a permanent place in the national side. He was dropped from the team after the Bombay Test against South Africa last year, but good batting in domestic tournaments this season earned him a place in the side for the ongoing Test series against the visiting Australians.

On Tuesday, the third day of the second Test, he laid to rest all doubts about his class and commitment with a splendid performance at Eden Gardens, which earned him an unbeaten century and revived India's sagging hopes after it was forced to follow on.

V V S LaxmanIn an exclusive interview, the stylish Hyderabadi batsman, who has scored 148 runs of India's total of 297 in two innings, told Rifat Jawaid that his job in the second Test is unfinished; he hopes to continue from where he left on the fourth morning and make sure India sets the Aussies a challenging target.

Congratulations on your great innings at the Eden. You rescued India from what could easily have been a humiliating defeat against the Aussies...

Thanks, but my job hasn't yet finished. I have an even tougher assignment when I go out to bat tomorrow [Wednesday] with Rahul [Dravid].

How would you rate today's [Tuesday's] innings compared to your previous ones?

Obviously, it's one of the best innings I have played in my life. I should really thank the team management for sending me in at number three in the second innings, though it was tough facing the Aussie attack, especially McGrath and Warne.

Warne, who generates considerable amount of turn even on dead tracks, was really using the slow wicket of the Eden Gardens to maximum advantage. But I, too, had decided to have a positive frame of mind while facing him. That's the reason why I played him with a tinge of aggression most of the time.

As for playing McGrath, first, the wicket had slowed down substantially from the start of the third day. So, facing him wasn't that frightening as, say, it would have been on the first two days. Moreover, I had played against the same attack couple of years back while representing India Under-19. So, I was kind of used to their style of bowling.

You are now thanking the team management for sending you in at number three. Did they send you in because you have always been comfortable batting at this position, or because you are in good nick and had batted till the very last in the first innings?

Well, truth to tell, I have always enjoyed batting at number three since the day I began playing cricket seriously. I bat in this position even when I represent Hyderabad in the domestic circuit. So, this was something I, myself, wanted. But after we were forced to follow-on by the Aussies, the team management met and decided that I should be going in at number three. Understandably, I was too thrilled with the decision. After all, I always love to bat under pressure against tough bowling.

How disappointed were you to have lost your wicket in a rather unfortunate manner in the first innings?

I pity Venkatesh [Prasad], who was really playing well and giving me good support. But my wicket put paid to all his hopes of a good batting display.

No, my point is: were you happy with the umpire's decision? Going by the television replay, it appeared that Warne's delivery had deflected off your arm rather than the gloves, as the umpire felt.

Well, such things are part of the game. I can understand the pressure under which umpires perform their duty. They, too, are human beings, and are bound to make mistakes. No hard feelings about that caught behind decision.

You have been in and out in the Test squad for long. How difficult was it for you to claim the seat again?

I have been performing very well in the Ranji Trophy and other domestic league matches, and have been consistent with my batting. I always thought if I am consistent in my batting, no one can ignore me. I have full faith in the national selectors. Thankfully, I performed well in this Test. I hope I continue to be an important part of all my team's victories in future.

Do you reckon your performance at the Eden will help you cement your berth in the Test squad?

I am not really bothered about all this. What I know is that as a batsman I am supposed to perform well and do the bulk of scoring. I am sure that a good performance will never go unnoticed; it always pays off.

What will be your strategy on the fourth day when you go out to bat with Rahul?

Well, as the team manager Mr. Chauhan himself told you guys during the post match press conference, any target in the region of 250 would be quite challenging. But the team management will meet tomorrow before the start of the game to decide the course of action for the day. We will walk onto the field with a determination of fulfilling the target set by the team management.

Lastly, you had once said that you idolize Mohammad Azharuddin and get inspiration from him. Do you maintain the same stand even after what has happened to him?

Oh, yeah! He has been a guiding force for every cricketer in Hyderabad. We all have grown up seeing him in action, so it is natural that we carry his influence in our batting. I learnt a lot from his style of batting, especially using the wrist while batting. But I have also learnt a lot from Sachin. His mere presence on the field helps a lot in boosting my confidence.

Also see:

Adam Gilchrist in Real Audio -- Day 3 - March 13
Match report -Day 3


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